Chicago to Saugatuck Jazz Festival | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago to Saugatuck Jazz Festival

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Concerts like this--an ambitious-sounding tribute to both Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane (who played for a brief but illuminating period in Monk's late-50s quartet)--fall into the "anyone's guess" category: it might turn out great, it might be a train wreck. Plans call for an opening set by a quintet steeped in Coltrane-iana, featuring the mysterious Rashied Ali (the drummer who replaced Elvin Jones in Coltrane's band of the mid-60s); the mercurial trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (who played on Coltrane's controversial Ascension album); and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, the honoree's talented son. Act two calls for Jon Hendricks, the bebop singer and lyricist/griot, to join with vocalist Karrin Allyson in some sort of musical-narrative tribute to Trane, before the sextet led by Thelonious Monk III--the other honoree's talented son--offers up its supercharged 90s hard-bop. At various points in the program Chicago's own Oscar Brown Jr. is scheduled to perform a section from Coltrane's famous suite A Love Supreme, as well as his own tunes (the latter in the company of his kids, Maggie and Oscar III--just call it family night). Hendricks will also perform tunes written by Monk pere with Monk fils, and before the four-hour running time has expired, the program also promises a 20-minute playlet by Samuel Beckett, for reasons not yet clear. The chance to hear a storied performer such as Ali, or to check on the progress of young Coltrane and singer Allyson in such high-powered surroundings, supplies the draw. But you'll have to weigh that against the poor health of Hubbard, the legendary excesses of which Hendricks is capable, and the problems inherent in trying to pace this many conflicting elements. (Cosponsoring radio station WBEZ employs this writer, who will emcee the event.) Friday, 9 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Marc Norberg, Adrian Buckmaster.

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