Harry Allen plays a velvety tenor in thrall to Stan Getz, and Chicago native Randy Sandke harks back even further for his coal-furnace trumpet style, to the music of Armstrong and Beiderbecke. Given their strong roots in the swing tradition, you might assume it's Retro Week at the Jazz Showcase, but Sandke and Allen each bring a much wider range of interests to their own work. With his bright, blistering tone, Sandke has few peers when it comes to duplicating the sound and style of the pioneers of jazz trumpet: on The Re-Discovered Louis and Bix (Nagel Heyer, 2000) his version of "Weather Bird" recaptures much of the excitement Armstrong must have created with his 1928 original. But for his provocative 2002 disc, Inside Out (also on Nagel Heyer), Sandke gathered an unusual group of players--including wild-man trombonist Ray Anderson and keyboardist Uri Caine (best known for his jazz takes on Mahler and Wagner)--to find a common ground between swing music and the avant-garde. Allen, much loved for his effortless re-creation of the cool sound made famous by Lester Young and his disciples--Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn--has also stepped out, if less flamboyantly, following an arc similar to that of Getz's career by traveling from bebop into bossa nova. He and Sandke have worked together since the early 90s, so rapport is no problem; their Chicago accompanists (pianist Mike Kocour, bassist Kelly Sill, and drummer Joel Spencer) have worked together more than twice as long, so the leaders will enjoy a solid foundation. $20-$25. Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, June 13, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.