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Chicago Jazz Festival 2016: Friday

The September 2 roster features Tarbaby with Oliver Lake, the Benny Golson Quartet, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, and more.

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Millennium Park

Von Freeman Pavilion

Noon | James Sanders Proyecto Libre

Local violinist James Sanders is accustomed to moving between genres: he plays classical music with the Chicago Sinfonietta, straight-ahead jazz with the Blue Violin Quartet, and Latin dance with Conjunto. Proyecto Libre is Sanders's take on free jazz, but it's hardly a free-for-all—rather it's a band where he's free to mix it all up. Bassists Joshua Abrams and Harrison Bankhead spend as much time grooving with percussionist Jean-­Christophe Leroy and drummer Avreeayl Ra as they do weaving rich, intricate harmonies with Sanders and saxophonist Edward Wilkerson Jr. —Bill Meyer

  • Courtesy DCASE

1:10 PM | Magic Carpet

Veteran Chicago combo Magic Carpet— guitarist Timuel Jones, bassist Parish Hick, saxophonist Fred Jackson, keyboardist Tracey King, percussionist Ryan Mayer, and drummer Makaya McCraven—have finessed a beguiling global fusion that uses their shared sense of rhythmic drive to pull together a wide variety of international threads. Traditions from Morocco, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Mali, and elsewhere commingle with strong doses of funk and blues, all driven by the jazz sensibility the musicians acquired early in their careers. —Peter Margasak

  • Sean Molin

[Recommended] 2:20 PM | Greg Rockingham Quartet

Rockingham is best known as one-third of the defunct Deep Blue Organ Trio, a beloved ensemble that featured guitarist Bobby Broom and organist Chris Foreman. The drummer leads a couple groups of his own now, including this exciting lineup with Foreman (a genius of the pedals and still the go-to guy for McGriff-era goodness), guitarist Lee Rothenberg, and versatile alto saxophonist Greg Ward. Keep an eye on Ward in particular, as you'll be hearing about him a lot more—his own bands have been on fire, and he leads a wonderful jam session at the Hungry Brain on Tuesday nights in the tradition of the jams at Fred Anderson's old Velvet Lounge. —John Corbett

  • Liz Linder

[Recommended] 3:30 PM | Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra

For the past decade, Boston trumpeter Brian Carpenter has corralled a dynamic group of forward-looking players to turn their attention to the earliest days of jazz—especially music made in Chicago (under the baton of bandleaders such as Tiny Parham and Fess Williams) and in Harlem (by Charlie Johnson, Fletcher Henderson, and Don Redman). On its three infectious albums, the Ghost Train Orchestra brilliantly balances historical fidelity with contemporary techniques, spiking wildly swinging arrangements with succinct, stinging improvisations—in Carpenter's hands, the past sounds more electric than ever. Today he leads a typically diverse and accomplished lineup: violinist and singer Mazz Swift, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, tubaist Ron Caswell, banjoist Brandon Seabrook, drummer Rob Garcia, and reedists Andy Laster, Dennis Lichtman, and Petr Cancura. —Peter Margasak

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion

  • Nedici Dragoslav

12:30 PM | John McLean: A tribute to Charlie Christian

Guitarist John McLean is one of the city's most respected modernists, taking the elegant prerogatives of Pat Metheny in new directions. This afternoon he's rounded up some of his favorite fellow six stringers—his partners in Guitar Madness, which usually convenes for charity shows around the holidays—to salute jazz's first great soloist on the instrument, swing paragon Charlie Christian. McLean, Dave Onderdonk, Mike Allemana, John Moulder, Neil Alger, and Ernie Denov all have different approaches, none bearing much resemblance to Christian's, but they'll pay tribute by playing songs associated with the master (as well as some Monk numbers and a few standards). Bassist Erich Hochberg and drummer Tom Radtke will provide the grooves. —Peter Margasak

  • courtesy Graffiti Photo

2 PM | Edwin Daugherty Sextet

Veteran Chicago saxophonist Edwin Daugherty, a longtime AACM member and sharp session player who's worked with the likes of Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder, turns his attention to a bedrock tradition in Chicago jazz: the tenor sax playing made famous by Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, and Eddie Harris, three alumni of Captain Walter Dyett's mighty band at DuSable High School who together developed a blues-steeped style that's inextricably linked with the city. Daugherty's potent front line features fellow saxists Ari Brown and Duke Payne, and the formidable rhythm section consists of pianist Willie Pickens, drummer Avreaayl Ra, and bassist Chuck Webb. —Peter Margasak

  • Farrad Ali

3:30 PM | Pharez Whitted Quartet

Throughout his career, Chicago trumpeter Pharez Whitted has moved between the hard-bop sound perfected by his hero Freddie Hubbard and a humid strain of atmospheric smooth jazz steeped in R&B. His most recent album, 2014's The Tree of Life, is firmly in the latter category, but this afternoon he'll surely embrace his jazz roots, fronting a lean quartet with pianist Julius Tucker, bassist Jeremiah Hunt, and drummer Greg Artry. —Peter Margasak

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

5 PM | Brian O'Hern & the Model Citizens

Maintaining a big band is a herculean task these days—given how much harder it's getting to make money in jazz, in most cases such groups stick together as a labor of love. There's plenty of affection uniting Chicago's Model Citizens, which keyboardist Brian O'Hern has led for 20 years—an occasion they celebrated with the ebullient new album We Are So Straight Ahead, whose tongue-in-cheek title alludes ironically to the fun-loving irreverence with which they tackle a wide range of styles. The lineup includes many of the city's best underrecognized talents: saxophonists Pat Mallinger, Dave Creighton, Dan Nicholson, Anthony Bruno, and Mark Hiebert; trumpeters B.J. Levy, Benjamin "BJ" Cord, and Scott Anderson; trombonists Raphael Crawford and Dylan Rehm; and the top-flight rhythm section of drummer Gerald Dowd, bassist Matt Ferguson, and guitarist Mike Allemana. —Peter Margasak

[Recommended] 6 PM | Tarbaby with special guest Oliver Lake

Pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Nasheet Waits augment their malleable trio, Tarbaby, by choosing from a small coterie of collaborators—tonight they're joined by brilliant alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, a Saint Louis native who cofounded the World Saxophone Quartet. He appears on the group's most recent album, 2014's Fanon, a salute to mid-20th-century Afro-French philosopher Frantz Fanon, who wrote on the effects of colonialism. Tarbaby play fiery, quicksilver postbop of the highest order, and Lake weaves his soulful, serrated keening through the core trio's telepathic rhythmic interactions with preternatural sophistication and grace. With or without their extended family, Tarbaby thrive in the liminal spaces between composition and free improvisation, and their understanding of jazz's history allows them to draw on any facet of it at any moment. But their fluidity and looseness shouldn't be mistaken for slackness—these three musicians have worked together in so many different configurations that any one of them can seize upon an idea and count on the other two to embrace it instantly. —Peter Margasak

  • Oliver Rossberg

[Recommended] 7:10 PM | Benny Golson Quartet

You can be one of the most venerable figures in jazz without being one of the most enjoyable to listen to—let's face it, some players lose their luster. Not so tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, who at 87 years old has been a venerable figure for longer than many careers last—and who continues to play music that makes you sit up and take notice. He's slowed his tempos and concentrated his fulsome tone, applying the same deadeye ear he brings to his compositions, many of which are classics. If you've never heard him play his tune "I Remember Clifford," you should be so lucky that he does it here. He appears with the superb band from this year's Horizon Ahead, his most recent record: Mike LeDonne on piano, Buster Williams on bass, and Carl Allen on drums. —John Corbett

[Recommended] 8:30 PM | Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra conducted by Carla Bley

Bassist Charlie Haden died two years ago, ending a career that began in the 1930s (when 22-month-old "Cowboy Charlie" joined his family's country-music radio show) and included long, fruitful associations with free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, pianist Keith Jarrett, and guitarist Pat Metheny. He also led many groups of his own, including the noirish Quartet West and the Liberation Music Orchestra, a large band that used jazz and protest music from around the world to express Haden's opposition to colonialism, militarism, and racism. Pianist and arranger Carla Bley has been with the orchestra since its founding in 1969, and her richly detailed brass arrangements have been as much a part of the group's sound as Haden's pithy bass. She'll lead a 12-piece ensemble that includes saxophonist Tony Malaby, drummer Matt Wilson, and tuba player Joe Daley, all of whom appear on the most recent LMO album, 2005's Not in Our Name. Their set will includes pieces from the band's decades-deep repertoire as well as some new music—perhaps the same material of Bley's that augments the older live recordings on the LMO's forthcoming Time/Life, due on Impulse! in October. —Bill Meyer

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