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Chicago Jazz Festival 2016: Saturday

Among the highlights on September 3 are the JD Allen Trio, the Anat Cohen Quartet, and the Bad Plus performing Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction.

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Millennium Park

Young Jazz Lions Stage

11:30 AM | Lenart Regional Gifted and Harold Washington Elementary School Jazz Combo

12:15 PM | Jones College Prep Jazz Combo

1 PM | Whitney Young Magnet High School Jazz Combo

2 PM | Curie Metropolitan High School Jazz Ensemble

2:55 PM | Pritzker High School Jazz Ensemble

3:50 PM | Kenwood High School Jazz Ensemble


Von Freeman Pavilion

Steve Schneck - DAVID ROTH
  • David Roth
  • Steve Schneck

Noon | Steve Schneck Quartet

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Steve Schneck plays like an old soul, with a beautifully burnished tone that sounds great on ballads and brings impressive clarity to up-tempo material. He's rooted in the fundamentals of hard bop, though his guitarist in this quartet, Neal Alger, adds a modern flourish to his sound. Bassist Scott Mason and drummer Chuck Christiansen round out the group. —Peter Margasak


AMANDA MEGAN MILLER
  • Amanda Megan Miller

1:10 PM | Alyssa Allgood Quintet

Chicago vocalist Alyssa Allgood brings precision and clarity to a repertoire that privileges the standards of the 40s and 50s. She's an avid scat singer, and like Annie Ross (a clear influence) she often puts words to timeless bebop melodies. Her band features Dan Chase on Hammond B-3, Chris Madsen on tenor saxophone, Tim Fitzgerald on guitar, and Matt Plaskota on drums. —Peter Margasak


OZZIE RAMSAY
  • Ozzie Ramsay

2:20 PM | Chris Greene Quartet

Tenor and soprano saxophonist Chris Greene has a CV that includes work with Common, Sheena Easton, and Steve Coleman & Five Elements. The Evanston native flexes his versatility on the 2014 double CD Music Appreciation: he adds a reggae groove to John Coltrane's "Equinox," welds free-jazz sonorities to drum 'n' bass rhythms on "Divers," and merges hard bop with early-80s party vibes on a cover of Yellow Magic Orchestra's version of "Firecracker" (originally a Martin Denny tune). But the classic instrumental lineup and mainstream jazz sensibilities of his long-standing quartet (pianist Damian Espinosa, bassist Marc Piane, and drummer Steve Corley) insure that everything they play has a user-friendly coherence. —Bill Meyer


COURTESY DCASE
  • Courtesy DCASE

3:30 PM | Victor Garcia Organ Septet

Chicago trumpeter Victor Garcia, one of the most versatile and authoritative horn players in the city, still hasn't made a recording under his own name—he's so busy working as a sideman and putting together new projects that he must be short on time. Tonight he presents a sturdy, beguiling new septet that draws upon the skills of local Hammond B-3 whiz Dan Trudell and will surely subvert fans' expectations of organ combos: the lineup features saxophonists Greg Ward and Rocky Year, trombonist Tom Garling, guitarist Scott Hesse, and drummer Charles Heath. —Peter Margasak


Jazz and Heritage Pavilion

REBECCA CIPRUS
  • Rebecca Ciprus

12:30 PM | Luke Malewicz Heritage Quartet

Trombonist Luke Malewicz, a native of Poland who moved to Chicago when he was 11, has struck gold with this dynamic pianoless quartet, which thrives on his deft interplay with trumpeter Chad McCullough. Supported by the crisp, nimble grooves of bassist Patrick Mulcahy and drummer Jon Dietemeyer, the front line's tender, lyrical solos look back to the chamber-music-style innovations of west-coast jazz while injecting the harmonic sophistication of the present. —Peter Margasak


NICK MAZZARELLA
  • Nick Mazzarella

[Recommended] 2 PM | Nate Lepine Quartet

For years reedist Nate Lepine has maintained a high profile in myriad jazz and rock combos—he's been a steady member of Herculaneum, for instance, and a sideman with the likes of Iron & Wine, Tim Kasher, and the Eternals Espiritu Zombi. But he's finally releasing an album under his own name this month, and it demonstrates his brawny, agile postbop chops and knack for hard-swinging themes. The gritty and elastic Vortices features the same strong combo Lepine leads today, with second reedist Nick Mazzarella, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Quin Kirchner. —Peter Margasak


[Recommended] 3:30 PM | JD Allen Trio

For years Detroit-raised tenor saxophonist JD Allen was just a name lurking in the credits of other people's records. After coming up working with singer Betty Carter, he put in time on all sorts of different fronts, then forged out on his own in 2008 with I Am I Am, the first in an ongoing string of highly individual and spectacularly successful albums. His sound sidesteps the conservative-versus-avant arguments that have haunted ambitious saxophonists for the past couple decades: he casually brings together different approaches, writes memorable new compositions, and comports himself in a way that strikes me as reminiscent of no less towering a figure than Sonny Rollins. The best of the batch, 2015's Graffiti, is a hard-core trio recording with insightful storytelling by Allen, supported by the riveting rhythm team of bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston. This year he released another stellar album, Americana: Musings on Jazz and Blues, with the same lineup; it recalls Rollins's Freedom Suite in spots. August and Royston will also accompany Allen today. —John Corbett


Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Tsukasa Taiko - KEN CARL
  • Ken Carl
  • Tsukasa Taiko

5 PM | Tatsu Aoki's Miyumi Project featuring Tsukasa Taiko and special guests Jon Jang and Francis Wong

Tatsu Aoki was born and spent the first 20 years of his life in Tokyo, but even when he makes music that deals with his Japanese heritage he proves himself a Chicagoan. Like the musicians from the AACM who've been among his enduring partners, Aoki envisions his work as part of a continuum that stretches from the ancient to the future. In the Miyumi Project he combines vibrant reeds and swinging bass grooves with the deliberate, heavy patterns of Japanese taiko drumming. For this concert a pair of like-minded Chinese-Americans from California, pianist Jon Jang and saxophonist Francis Wong, will augment the group. —Bill Meyer


[Recommended] 6 PM | Eric Alexander/Harold Mabern Quartet

Any excuse to hear outstanding straight-ahead tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander is a good one, but today you've got an exceptional reason in the form of 80-year-old pianist Harold Mabern. Part of the deep history of Chicago jazz in the 50s, Mabern lived and worked here for five years, comparing notes with elder pianists such as Chris Anderson and replacing Muhal Richard Abrams in the group MJT+3, with whom he recorded for Vee-Jay. Mabern went on to cement his place in the pantheon, moving to New York in '59 and performing and recording with a staggering variety of folks, among them Wes Montgomery and Archie Shepp. He's cut 16 records with Alexander as leader—the first, Mode for Mabes, came out in 1998—and their shared sympathies are evident at all times, whether in the hard-bop setting or the blues insinuations. —John Corbett


AUGUSTA SAGNELLI
  • Augusta Sagnelli

[Recommended] 7:10 PM | Anat Cohen Quartet

For much of the past decade, reedist Anat Cohen has been the face of the bustling community of Israeli jazz musicians working in New York. She's demonstrated a voracious curiosity, balancing a strong feel for hard-­swinging postbop with a serious affinity for Brazilian choro, an instrumental cousin of samba whose spirited improvisational ethos can make it feel a lot like jazz. Tonight she brings her fleet working quartet—pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Daniel Freedman—who most recently appeared with her on the 2012 album Claroscuro. (The title is a Spanish word for the play of light and shade.) On that record she deftly weaves together most of the threads she addresses separately in her multifarious projects, including Brazilian music, classic swing, and postbop. Though Cohen plays a bit of soprano and tenor saxophone, she's made her name with her sublime clarinet work—tonally pure, rhythmically agile, and harmonically plush. She and her band make it seem easy, even logical, to veer from the hard-driving, jagged lines of "Anat's Dance" (composed by Lindner) to a leisurely, nostalgic spin through the Edith Piaf vehicle "La Vie en Rose" (with fat-toned trombone by guest Wycliffe Gordon, who also sings a verse in a Satchmo-style growl) to a sweetly lyrical, sweeping version of the Milton Nascimento classic "Tudo Que Você Podia Ser." —Peter Margasak


CAMERON WITTIG
  • Cameron Wittig

[Recommended] 8:30 PM | The Bad Plus perform Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction

Postmodern piano trio the Bad Plus made their name with wildly inventive interpretations of songs by artists well outside the jazz canon—Aphex Twin, Rush, David Bowie—and their radical arrangements, which easily could've sounded like arch jokes, instead displayed a genuine ardor for the repertoire. But lately pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King have switched to original material, making albums no less daunting, original, and energetic—the new It's Hard, where they cover the likes of Peter Gabriel, Kraftwerk, and TV on the Radio, is their first collection of pop adaptations in seven years. The Bad Plus have also interpreted nonpop music—they released a walloping take on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in 2014—and they'll debut another such project in Chicago tonight. Enhanced by saxophonists Tim Berne and Sam Newsome and trumpeter Ron Miles, the trio will tackle Ornette Coleman's often-overlooked 1972 classic Science Fiction, a paradigm-shifting masterpiece for which the fearless composer augmented his core quartet with contributions from Dewey Redman, Bobby Bradford, and Indian vocalist Asha Puthli—looking toward the new sound he'd embrace with his band Prime Time. —Peter Margasak

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