Green Pasture Happiness with Michael Zerang, Keefe Jackson | Heaven Gallery | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Green Pasture Happiness with Michael Zerang, Keefe Jackson Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Feb. 4, 10 p.m. 2012

Keefe Jackson is one of the most promising and talented reedists on the local jazz and improvised-music scene, but he's yet to take center stage, in part due to an unassuming, almost deferential personality. He's only made a few albums as a leader over the years, but his playing has reached such a high level that it seems criminal he's not a marquee name. He's a crucial front-line partner in the quartet led by bass clarinetist Jason Stein—last year's The Story This Time (Delmark) is terrific—and his sophisticated, empathetic playing during a recent concert with Boston pianist Pandelis Karayorgis knocked me out. Jackson is excellent at taking the pulse of a project and shaping his lines and approach accordingly. Though both Stein and Karayorgis rely on tunes, Jackson has proved just as strong and distinctive a presence in fully improvised settings. On the quartet album Proxemics (Creative Sources), a powerful sound-oriented work with Berlin-based saxophonist Boris Hauf, Chicago percussionist Steve Hess, and London-based pianist Judith Unterpertinger, the ensemble convincingly collages abstract electronics, field recordings, shimmering long tones, and subtle jazzlike passages. And on a recent self-released duo album with Swiss pianist Hans-Peter Pfammatter, Jackson thoughtfully slaloms through his partner's pointillistic, cascading streams of notes, and his own craggy phrases never sound less than simpatico. Tonight he plays solo. —Peter Margasak See also Tuesday. A quartet of Daniel Fandino, Brian Labycz, Aaron Zarzutzki, and Michael Zerang headlines; Jackson opens.

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