Fred Anderson's 80th Birthday Tribute Festival: Hamiet Bluiett, Henry Grimes, Kidd Jordan, and others; Ari Brown Quartet with Pharez Whitted; Dee Alexander Quartet with Nicole Mitchell; Ernest Dawkins & the New Horizons Ensemble with Corey Wilkes | Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader

Fred Anderson's 80th Birthday Tribute Festival: Hamiet Bluiett, Henry Grimes, Kidd Jordan, and others; Ari Brown Quartet with Pharez Whitted; Dee Alexander Quartet with Nicole Mitchell; Ernest Dawkins & the New Horizons Ensemble with Corey Wilkes Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., March 21, 8 p.m. 2009

There’s not much Dee Alexander can’t do. She’s as resourceful a vocal improviser as I’ve ever heard, with astonishing control of pitch and modulation, and she’s just as adept at working a standard as she is at threading wordless sounds and abstract melodic shapes into a loose, freewheeling record like last year’s Blissful (Rogue Art), a knockout session led by drummer Hamid Drake. On her first properly released album, Wild Is the Wind (Blujazz), she covers her entire dizzying range in a rock-solid set of tightly focused tunes, displaying both awesome technique and rare discipline and making a strong case for herself as one of the most exciting jazz singers on the planet. On the title track she opens by shaping the sorrowful melody with a light touch; even more impressive, her performance stays just as nuanced when she swells into a huge crescendo. And her detours into pure sound—like her imitations of violin pizzicato on the reggaefied ballad “Rossignol”—are never self-indulgent, displaying an economy and focus I wish more scatters would embrace. She performs tonight with some of her favorite collaborators: bassist Harrison Bankhead and pianist Miguel de la Cerna (both of whom play on her new record), drummer Ernie Adams, and guest flutist Nicole Mitchell. This show is part of Fred Anderson’s 80th Birthday Tribute Festival; the headlining set is a “Jam for Fred” with special guests Hamiet Bluiett, Kidd Jordan, and Henry Grimes. Opening are the Ari Brown Quartet with Pharez Whitted, Alexander’s group, and Ernest Dawkins & the New Horizons Ensemble with Corey Wilkes. —Peter Margasak

Price: $40

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