Clifford Jordan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Clifford Jordan

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Ever since the 1950s, when tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan left Chicago, his name has been associated with hard bop--a natural consequence of his years with bands led by Horace Silver, Maz Roach, Charles Mingus, and the like. But like so many other ex-Chicagoans, he's never properly fit that or any other label. True, there's the toughness of his attack and the frequent hard edge to his sound, but neither of those can obscure the lyricism deep in his heart. He's an inventor of melodies; the shapes of his phrases suggest Lester Young, modified by bop harmonies. Moreover, he's a thoroughly spontaneous player, without a safety net of trademark cliches. His melodic lines keep changing direction, as if they were reflecting his moods--his music is uniquely intimate for such a vigorous musician. Currently he leads a big band that's the talk of New York, but this return to Chicago is a return to basics for him: two nights with an essentially informal pickup band. Especially interesting will be the contrast of his pure melodism with the dramatic complexities of fellow tenorman Von Freeman. They'll be joined by Willie Pickens (piano), Larry Gray (bass), and the inspirational Wilbur Campbell (drums), and on Saturday by third tenorist Edward Petersen as well. Tonight, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lauren Deutsch.

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