Talk all you want about pianist Jodie Christian's earth-stirring swing, or his unique harmonic adjustments, or the hard-wrought gossamer of his right-hand work, or the inestimable soul he wrings from the keyboard; the real reason he received this year's Jazz Masters Award (from the advocacy organization Arts Midwest) has to do with his resilient versatility. Christian played hard-bop in the 50s, but he also cofounded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians--free jazz holds no terrors for him--and he excels at virtually everything in between. Most Chicagoans know him from his frequent appearances at the Jazz Showcase, where a who's who of visiting hornmen have requested that he lead the mainstream trios behind them; yet last weekend, in a quartet with postmodernist David Murray, Christian crafted a number of solos that--with their untethered but clearly directed trajectories--served as powerful object lessons in new music. Christian's new CD, Rain or Shine (Delmark), covers all this ground: it ranges from the title tune, a standard (sung, sort of, by Christian himself), to a composition by his AACM cohort Roscoe Mitchell. Both Mitchell and electro-contempo sensation Art Porter play on the album, and both will show up for the CD-release party (open to the public) that coincides with this engagement. Friday, 8 and 9:30 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Melvin Williams.