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Now 77, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz is one of the last living links to the bebop era. He began his career in the 40s as a distinguished acolyte of pianist Lennie Tristano; shortly thereafter he participated in the sessions that produced Miles Davis's album Birth of the Cool. Since then the Chicago native has led his own groups, honing a lustrous, airy tone and a nonflashy, rhythmically moderate strain of improvisation that's as rigorous and original as any in jazz history. Many bop-era players have tended to shuffle through past glories, but Konitz prefers a challenge; he's jousted with the ferocious drummer Elvin Jones on Motion (1961), ditched all the scripts with guitarist Derek Bailey, and gone head-to-head with contemporary sax master Joe Lovano. This bill was designed by the Symphony Center to honor Konitz, but it'll be more forward-looking than that suggests, as Konitz will play two sets featuring a handful of like-minded vanguardists. He's performed with pianist Paul Bley for decades, and their set should highlight Konitz's austere side, using gaps of silence to presage electrifying shifts in direction. For the second set he'll be joined by guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Joey Baron, and bassist Drew Gress; their past work together evokes the measured coolness of Konitz's early days, but with a confrontational edge. Fri 1/28, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-233-7114, $19-$39. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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