A buoyant, stylistically wide-ranging weekend in Chicago jazz

Howard Reich

9:32 AM CDT, October 4, 2012


Any doubts that the fall season has gotten fully underway should be swept aside by this weekend's nearly brisk lineup of jazz offerings:

"Women of Chicago Jazz Piano": Jazz listeners tend to think of Chicago as a tenor saxophone town, and for good reason: tenor giants such as Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, Clifford Jordan, Ari Brown and many more are globally identified with Chicago. But this city also has turned out its share of legendary pianists, many of them women, as Chicagoan Bethany Pickens will illustrate during this concert. She'll play homage to Lil Hardin (a significant force on her husband, Louis Armstrong, during his Chicago days), Dorothy Donegan (a hyperactive, charismatic stage presence) and Earma Thompson (whose music was imbued with the spirit of South Side Chicago blues). Pianist Pickens, it should be noted, is the daughter of octogenarian Chicago piano giant Willie Pickens, though she has developed a leaner style of her own. The event is presented by the non-profit Jazz Institute of Chicago as part of the ongoing JazzCity series, which long has brought free concerts to the parks. 7 p.m. Friday at Revere Park, 2509 W. Irving Park Rd.; free; 312-427-1676 or jazzinchicago.org

Benny Green: A protege of one of the greatest jazz pianists of the 20th century, Oscar Peterson, Green similarly cultivates sleek, fast-flying fingerwork. Unlike Peterson, however, Green's playing can be a bit buttoned-down at times; but when he loosens up, he can generate considerable excitement. He'll lead a trio. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $20-$25; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com

Howard Alden/Andy Brown Quartet: Chicago guitarist Brown has made his collaboration with guitarist Alden a joyous, annual event at the Green Mill. In many ways, Alden and Brown capture the high spirits of the Django Reinhardt-Stephane Grappelli idiom of the 1930s (though minus the fiddle), but they update it, as well. This time, the stakes are a bit higher than usual, with Brown and Alden launching a Midwestern tour on Sunday including into a recording-studio date on Monday. Good move: This partnership between guitarists of two generations, but one esthetic, deserves to be documented. 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $12; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

Typhanie Monique: Because she's pursuing a graduate degree in classical voice, Chicago jazz singer Monique has been largely absent from the city's clubs and concert halls. Considering the appeal of her scat singing and the deepening of her interpretations, that's our loss. But Monique will make a rare, if brief, return to the stage this weekend, in a venue where she once regularly held forth. It will be interesting to hear how her immersion in classical music has affected her jazz technique. 5, 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10 before 7:30 p.m.; $15 after 7:30 p.m.; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

James Falzone: The enterprising, stylistically fearless Chicago clarinetist celebrates the release of an inventive recording by his ensemble KLANG, which features Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone, Jason Roebke on bass and Tim Daisy on drums. KLANG will play music from the new release, "Brooklyn Lines ... Chicago Spaces," at 8 p.m. Friday at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago, 2012 W. Dickens Ave.; $10; 773-486-9590 or covenantchicago.org. Also 10 p.m. Sunday at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave.; $10; umbrellamusic.org

Septeto Nacional de Igancio Pineiro: When this long-running ensemble played the Old Town School of Folk Music last year, Chicagoans heard Cuban folkloric music performed at its most urgent. Formed in 1927 and now in its fourth generation, the ensemble dispatched vintage son and rumba in much the same way you still can hear that music performed in the plazas, streets and alleys of Havana. The concert by Septeto Nacional, which first played Chicago during the Century of Progress International Exposition in 1933, drew a sold-out house last time, and judging by the enthusiastic audience response, that's likely to happen again. 7 and 10 p.m. Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music's Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; $21-$25; 773-728-6000 or oldtownschool.org

Arturo Sandoval: Cuban music of another sort – jazzier and more exhibitionistic – unfolds whenever trumpeter Sandoval lifts the mouthpiece to his lips. An exuberant performer, Sandoval brings a manic energy to his work, which on good nights can be thrilling and on off nights overbearing. At the very least, though, he stands as a hyper-virtuoso soloist, an ebullient scat singer and a not-bad pianist (though he poses no threat to bona fide Cuban piano titans, such as Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba). Because Sandova will be playing the comparatively intimate Viper Alley, listeners should be prepared for fortissimo blasts of sound. 8 p.m. Friday (restaurant opens at 5 p.m.) at Viper Alley, 275 Parkway Dr., Lincolnshire; $27-$75; 847-499-5000 or viper-alley.com

Victor Goines: The formidable clarinetist-saxophonist heads the jazz studies department at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music and plays a key role in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis. All that activity keeps Goines either on the road or in the classroom and, alas, not in the clubs as often as Chicagoans would like to hear him. He'll remedy that with this engagement in Chicago's most congenial Sunday-night attraction, the weekly sessions presented by the non-profit Hyde Park Jazz Society. 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday at Room 43, 1043 E. 43d St.; $10; hydeparkjazzsociety.com

Colleen McHugh: A decade ago, McHugh was one of an emerging generation of Chicago cabaret singers bringing fresh vitality to the art form. She eventually moved away from the city but returns here this weekend to celebrate the release of "Pret-a-PORTER: Cole Porter's French Connections." McHugh's first studio recording, the disc honors the composer who famously wrote "I Love Paris," "C'est Magnifique," "Ca, C'est L'amour" and other ultra-sophisticated fare. 7 p.m. Sunday at Davenport's, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave.; $30 and two-drink minimum; 773-278-1830 or davenportspianobar.com

To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.


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