For two years now, Chicago tenor saxist Greg Fishman has taken advantage of a historical coincidence to honor a pair of jazz greats, Stan Getz and Sonny Stitt. Both sax men were born on February 2, Getz in 1927 and Stitt in 1924, but they only occasionally crossed paths in performance--most impressively on the 1956 Dizzy Gillespie date For Musicians Only (Verve). Shortly before Charlie Parker died, he supposedly promised Stitt "the keys to the kingdom," but while Stitt indeed made his name just after Parker's death, he always claimed he'd arrived at his uncannily Bird-like approach to bebop on his own. (This would be what the biologists call evolutionary convergence: two unrelated organisms developing parallel features due to similar environments.) Getz, on the other hand, pursued bop with the tonal elegance and melodic flow of earlier jazz styles, earning a place among the half dozen essential tenor men. But the two did share a light, focused sound--it made Getz's upper range sound like an alto-tenor hybrid and allowed Stitt to transfer his alto technique to tenor with unparalleled facility. Fishman draws on that same sound in his own work, but in its logic his music leans toward Getz: he's transcribed and published dozens of Getz's recorded solos, and few musicians have as firm a grasp of what made Getz tick. In his two-night commemoration of Getz and Stitt, Fishman leads a strong quartet, abetted by pianist Dennis Luxion's thoughtful texturing and aversion to easy melodic solutions. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. The next evening Fishman and a regular collaborator, pianist Judy Roberts, join Brazilian guitarist-vocalist Paulinho Garcia to pay homage to Getz's landmark 1960s collaborations with the father of bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim: Thursday, 6:30 PM, Randolph Cafe, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630. NEIL TESSER
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