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The Reader's guide to the Jazz Fest: Sunday

Unscathed by the cuts that hit so many city fests this year, it's got Allen Toussaint, Steve Coleman, and more

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Jazz on Jackson Stage

[Recommended] The Milton Suggs Philosophy
Noon
On his third album, this summer's terrific Lyrical, Volume 1 (Skiptone), Chicagoan Milton Suggs affirms his place as one of the best jazz singers to emerge in the past decade. Most of the songs are classic vocalese—Suggs has written words to themes by the likes of Wayne Shorter, Blue Mitchell, and Lee Morgan—but he avoids excessive improvised ornamentation, instead focusing on careful, soulful phrasing that's redolent of Donny Hathaway more than Johnny Hartman. (He kills it on the album's one contemporary soul number, "Will You Fly With Me?") Here and there Suggs harmonizes with himself via deft overdubs, but even a single track of his voice is a marvel. —PM

Jeremy Kahn & the Pepper Adams Project
1:10 PM
Much like pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach recorded every Thelonious Monk tune for the 2005 three-CD set Monk's Casino (Intakt), Oak Park-based pianist Jeremy Kahn has recorded a big chunk of the considerably more obscure songbook of Pepper Adams, a major baritone saxophonist who died in 1986. With producer Gary Carner supervising the project, Kahn has made two CDs that dig deep into Adams's fascinating postbop, one with a quartet featuring another monster bari, Gary Smulyan, and the other with a piano trio. This set, though, shifts the emphasis a bit. Vocalist Cheryl Wilson will sing Adams's melodies with newly minted lyrics, backed by Kahn and three more fine Chicagoans—the positively propulsive George Fludas on drums, Dennis Carroll on bass, and Eric Schneider on saxophones. —JC

[Recommended] Ken Vandermark's Made to Break Quartet
2:20 PM
For this relatively new quartet with Chicago drummer Tim Daisy, LA-based electric bassist Devin Hoff, and Buenos Aires-based Austrian electronicist Christof Kurzmann, Ken Vandermark has written hard-hitting modular compositions ready to be disassembled and re­organized on the fly by anyone in the band. When these guys get rolling, they tend toward off-kilter grooves with more than a little funk in them, and Kurzmann often processes the output of his bandmates in real time. —PM

[Recommended] Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts
3:30 PM
Matt Wilson is a top-shelf drummer whose face sells copies of musicians' magazines, and the rest of his combo Arts & Crafts—keyboardist Gary Versace, trumpeter Terell Stafford, bassist Martin Wind—is just as outrageously gifted. But these guys never let virtuosity get in the way of swinging a good tune, and they spike their best work with the emotional complexity that comes from needing to ward off the blues in order to express joy. Their dirge-paced rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again," from this year's An Attitude for Gratitude (Palmetto), simultaneously mourns the death from cancer of original bassist Dennis Irwin and celebrates the fact that Wilson's wife is winning her own battle with the disease. For this gig Randy Brecker fills in for Stafford. —BM

Young Jazz Lions Stage

Chi Arts Jazz Combo Noon

Kenwood Academy Jazz Combo 12:50 PM

Northwestern University Jazz Ensemble 1:40 PM

Downers Grove South Jazz Ensemble 2:40 PM

Lincoln Park Jazz Ensemble 3:40 PM

Jazz & Heritage Stage

Edwin Sanchez Project
12:30 PM
Chicago pianist Edwin Sanchez, raised in Humboldt Park, carries on the city's broad-­minded Latin-jazz aesthetic; this eight-­member, three-percussionist band blends it with soul and funk. —PM

Jeff Newell's New-Trad Octet
2 PM
Alto saxophonist Jeff Newell has lived in Chicago and New York (his current home), but he plays like a man with his heart in New Orleans. This combo weds vintage Crescent City brass polyphony to slick grooves that combine robust tuba and slippery electric bass. Newell maintains a local version of the New-Trad Octet with Orbert Davis on trumpet; that's who will play here. —BM

[Recommended] Tito Carrillo
2 PM
For at least a decade Tito Carrillo has been among the most ubiquitous, reliable, and flexible trumpeters in Chicago, and his brash attack and sophisticated lyricism have made him a first-call horn man in concert and in the studio. Still, he only released his debut as a leader, the quartet album Opening Statement (Origin), this year. Perhaps because he's already so seasoned, he bypasses the common traps of first records: there's no gratuitous technical flash or eclecticism for its own sake, just elegant, fluent postbop, ranging from high-velocity modal burners to limpid ballads. Carrillo grew up listening to salsa and has played in the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (see Friday), but here he heats up the music's rhythms with clave patterns only occasionally. He's joined by saxophonist Phillip Doyle, pianist Benjamin Lewis, and bassist Lorin Cohen (all from the album), plus drummer Jay Sawyer and conga player Victor Gonzalez. —PM

Petrillo Music Shell

Sarah Marie Young Quartet
5 PM
It's fitting that local singer Sarah Marie Young kicks off the main-stage action today, given that Dianne Reeves closed it down last night. She's poised to be the next great jazz singer from Chicago, balancing old-school fundamentals with a pop quirkiness that acknowledges the present. She's accompanied by drummer Makaya McCraven, pianist Stuart Mindeman, bassist Patrick Mulcahy, and her own ukulele. —PM

Pierre Dorge & New Jungle Orchestra
6 PM
If you want to hear the whole history of jazz in one set, Pierre Dorge's New Jungle Orchestra would be a great place to start. The Danish big band's horn arrangements are inspired by Ellington and free jazz, and Dorge's guitar leads and Irene Becker's keyboard washes would sound at home in a straight-up fusion combo. But these folks don't stop with jazz: the coloristic percussion and vivacious rhythms are inspired by West African pop, and the band's latest album is a musical portrait of India. —BM

[Recommended] Steve Coleman & Five Elements
7:10 PM
If you combined supernerdy intellectualism with intense musicality and a panoramic grasp of jazz history, you might wind up with Steve Coleman. One of the most influential players and thinkers of the past 20 years, he cofounded Brooklyn collective M-Base in the 80s, using it as a nursery for his concept. But Coleman's journey began in the early 70s in his native Chicago, where he frequently joined in at the late Von Freeman's legendary New Apartment Lounge jam sessions, and he's never forgotten his roots—to this day he cites Vonski's indelible impact on his development. Coleman moved to New York at age 22, in 1978, and evolved his own instantly recognizable approach: cyclical repetitions, highly articulate improvising, layers of odd time signatures, and an often funky feel. A freakishly devoted player and demanding bandleader, he creates extremely complex musical contexts that force his players—within quite strict parameters—to think their way out of the proverbial box. In many ways, Coleman has provided jazz with a new paradigm, though only a few (Greg Osby, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa) practice it with the rigor and imagination that he does. This manifestation of Coleman's Five Elements includes trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Marcus Gilmore. —JC

[Recommended] Allen Toussaint's "The Bright Mississippi" featuring Marc Ribot and Don Byron
8:30 PM
It's impossible to overstate the importance of Allen Toussaint to the music of New Orleans—and, by extension, to the music of America. A songwriter, pianist, arranger, and producer, he was a one-man hub of activity in the 60s and 70s. Though he's most fluent in soul and funk, other threads run through his work, including rhythms from rock and Afro-Cuban music—and for the 2009 album The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch), producer Joe Henry convinced him to explicitly address jazz. They focused on early New Orleans jazz, a style Toussaint internalized long ago. He struts and strolls through familiar chestnuts ("St. James Infirmary," "West End Blues") as well as relatively modern fare (Monk's "Bright Mississippi"), but the gulf-coast funk and grit he injects into his sparse vamps and rollicking solos prevents anything from sounding retro. Tonight Toussaint is joined by his regular working band, plus guitarist Marc Ribot and clarinetist Don Byron reprising their roles from The Bright Mississippi—PM

Our picks for:
Thursday and FridaySaturdayThe aftershows

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