John Birks Gillespie--generally known as Dizzy--was born in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina. At 14 he picked up the trombone; a year later he began playing trumpet. He went on to play across six decades, ending only when he died last month at 75. With Charlie Parker he brought jazz out of the swing era and into the realm of bebop. He'll be remembered today with a tribute concert for Dizzy, a free noontime affair in the lobby of the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington, featuring the Guy Fricano Jazz Ensemble. It's free; call 346-3278 for more.
Chang-Lin Tien has spent more than 30 years at UC Berkeley, first as an engineering professor, then as chancellor. He became the youngest faculty member to win the university's Distinguished Teaching Award, and his research in heat-transfer technology is recognized around the world. Today he'll speak on the subject of New Paradigms in Science and Engineering, one in a series of Illinois Institute of Technology's Trustees' Lectures. The free talk starts at 2 in the school's Smith-Olson Auditorium in Perlstein Hall, 10 W. 33rd St. Call 567-3104 for info.
Ru Paul, the boy who poses as a girl model, now wants to be a pop star. "You're born naked and the rest is drag," he says cryptically. "Everyone's a drag queen, even Barbara Bush." Paul has a new album coming out soon on the rap label Tommy Boy; he'll debut his club act locally at 1 AM at the Vortex, 3631 N. Halsted. A fashion show of work from four local designers opens. Cover is $7; call 975-0660 for more.
So you want to be a rock 'n' roll star? How about just a studio whiz? Check out the Experimental Sound Studio's two-day class Sampling, Synthesis, Sequencing, and MIDI. Instructors Scott Alan Wilson-Godoy and Lou Mallozzi promise a "basic, intense" introduction to the title effects, most of which are de rigueur on everything from modern pop records to the most outre experimental music. The sessions run today and tomorrow from 1 to 6 at the studio, 5150 N. Paulina. Cost is $30 and $25 for ESS members, and it includes two hours of studio time to practice what you've learned. Call 784-0449 for details.
The barricades are about to go up at the old National Guard Armory, which will be torn down to make way for the Museum of Contemporary Art's new home. Those barricades will be a bit more colorful after tonight's Paintbrush Ball at the downtown Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker. At the affair students of the Marwen Foundation, which provides free art training for low-income kids, will help guests finish painting the 400-foot mural that will decorate the construction site. The $85 ticket gets you dinner, an opportunity to try your hand at mural painting, dancing, and a chance to bid on sculptural centerpieces created by Marwen students. Things get under way at 7; call 944-2418 for more.
You wanna play Edgard Varese's Ionisation? Fine: Just get yourself 37 different percussion instruments (sirens, tam-tams, bongos, bass drums, slapsticks, Chinese blocks, maracas, a gong, and more) and 13 musicians to play them. That's what the Contemporary Chamber Players are going to do today in a concert at the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. Also included on the bill: Varese's Density 21.5, originally commissioned for George Barrere's platinum flute; James Primosch's five-movement The Cloud of Unknowing, a cycle of sacred songs based on texts by Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Donne, Thomas Merton, and others; and Mirage, by Shulamit Ran, the U. of C.'s Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. The show's at 3; tickets are $12, $6 for students. Call 702-8068 for info.
Baritone Jon Utes will be singing Richard Strauss's Lieder and songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams and others at the Fine Arts Building's Curtis Hall, 410 S. Michigan, today at 4. The show's a benefit for Direct Aid of Chicago, a group that provides financial assistance to people with AIDS. Cover is a suggested $25; call 528-9448.
Fires of Kuwait, the new film at the Museum of Science and Industry's 76-foot domed IMAX theater, has already made its mark: it's the first IMAX picture to be nominated for an Oscar (for best documentary). The movie tells the story of the teams of fire fighters that went to Kuwait in the wake of the gulf war, after retreating Iraqi military set more than 600 oil wells on fire. It's believed that the more than 10,000 people who helped in the effort represented the largest international nonmilitary mobilization of personnel and equipment ever. The teams managed to extinguish the blazes in nine months; their battle is captured in the new film, which begins daily every 50 minutes starting at 10 AM. Shows sell out, so get there early. Tix are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for kids, which includes museum admission. It's cheaper in the evenings and on Thursday, without museum admission. The museum is at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive; call 684-1414 for details.
The state of Illinois' new 12th legislative district encompasses Lakeview and parts of Lincoln Park and Uptown. The state rep serving the district is Democrat Ellis Levin; you can scream about any one of the many state problems he probably can't do anything about at an open house today at 5:30 in his district office, 3733 N. Clark. Call 975-0800 for details.
Some of Israel's renowned choreographers and dance companies hit town today for a two-week Festival of Israeli Dance. Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal, one of the country's best-known ensembles, offers a free lecture-demonstration today at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. The troupe will also perform Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM at Northeastern Illinois University auditorium, at Central Park and Bryn Mawr. Tix are $12, $8 for students and seniors for the Thursday event, $2 more Friday and Saturday. Other performances include choreographer Arie Bursztyn and the Sinapsa Dance Group at the Dance Center of Columbia College on March 9 and 10 (tickets $14 and $10) and the Batsheva Dance Company at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, on March 11, 13, and 14. Tickets run from $15 to $30 for that one. Call 271-7804 for more.
The Future of Chicago, a free UIC lecture series moderated by political-science professor and former alderman Dick Simpson and urban-planning professor Charles Orlebeke, continues today with Cook County Clerk David Orr talking on "The Future of Chicago's Politics." It's at 1 in the school's John Paul II Center, 700 S. Morgan. Keep an eye out for upcoming talks by Miriam Santos (March 19) and Eugene Pincham (March 31), same time and place. Call 413-3780 for more.
The city has recently moved its landmark-preservation team into the Planning and Development Department. At today's Friends of Downtown monthly lunch meeting, deputy planning commissioner Charles Thurow will be talking about how the city's going to be handling the designation and preservation of landmarks in the future, focusing particularly on plans for the Reliance Building, 32 N. State. The free session starts at 12:15 in meeting room 5 of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 977-0098 for details.
Joyce Sloane--a longtime cheerleader for Second City stars like Jim Belushi, John Candy, and Harold Ramis and a force in the institution for more than three decades--gets feted this afternoon at the Chicago Film Critics Association's annual awards party. Also at the affair, the group will give out its slate of film awards for the year, with winners flown in to accept. The ceremony runs from 2 to 4:30, with a party to follow, in the Pump Room, 1301 N. State. Tickets are $75; call 509-8155 for more.