Eric Alexander, Cecil Payne & John Ore | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Eric Alexander, Cecil Payne & John Ore


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This week's history lesson concerns Cecil Payne, who shares a unique niche in the development of jazz. In the late 40s, along with the long-gone Serge Chaloff, Payne found himself in the first wave of bebop-playing baritone saxophonists and worked hard to translate the mercurial flights of bebop pioneer Charlie Parker--who played the considerably more graceful alto sax--to the big horn pitched an octave lower. Featured most notably with Dizzy Gillespie's big band, Payne showed the influence of Harry Carney (the best-known baritonist of the swing era) in his meaty and authoritative sound; meanwhile, his improvisations gradually moved beyond Parker's influence to make him a respected soloist in his own right. Payne twice dropped off the music scene, and each time came back a changed man. By his second return, he had a much lighter tone and a relaxed stance that nodded to, but seemed to have little heart for, the fires of his bebop youth. Now in his 70s, Payne will perform with another rarely heard jazz treasure, the bassist John Ore, who anchored the Thelonious Monk Quartet in the early 1960s and later showed up in the bands of an even more idiosyncratic leader, Sun Ra. They come to Chicago with Eric Alexander, the potent young tenorist whose huge tone and uncompromised command of the hard-bop idiom reveal his own more-than-passing knowledge of jazz history. Tenor and baritone in the front line and a certified giant in the rhythm section promise a celebration of the tradition with at least a few fireworks. Friday, 10 PM and midnight, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.

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