Junior Mance Quartet All Ages Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Jan. 14, 7 p.m. 2012

Evanston native Junior Mance is not only one of the bluesiest pianists in jazz history but also an extraordinarily empathetic accompanist whose playing has graced bands led by everyone from Lester Young to Gene Ammons to Dizzy Gillespie—in the late 60s he even worked with Aretha Franklin. His own albums have always been solid if a tad predictable, going all-in on the feel-good fundamentals of swing and the blues but not doing too much to advance either genre aesthetically. The 2011 live record Letter From Home (JunGlo), for example, is a rollicking, toe-tapping romp through standards you might expect to hear (Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing") and tunes you probably wouldn't (a bluesy stroll through "Home on the Range"), and even though there are no surprises, the music glows with such life-affirming rightness that it'd feel unforgivably petty to complain—I'm even willing to overlook an unfortunate decision by bassist Hide Tanaka to quote "Norwegian Wood" in his solo on the album's storming opener, "Holy Mama." Mance, 83, leads a quartet of regular collaborators here: Tanaka, drummer Kim Garey, and baritone saxophonist Andrew Hadro. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20-$40

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