Red Rodney Quintet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Red Rodney Quintet

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These days, when trumpeter Red Rodney spins one of his lively, puckish solos, he offers not a snapshot of the moment but a panoramic photograph of his whole life. Thus you hear his roots in bebop, nurtured during his time as a Charlie Parker sideman--but now they flourish in the more contemporary structures gleaned from the younger musicians who have served as Red's own acolytes. And while you can hear the depth of longing learned in the years away from jazz, it exists side-by-side with the pure wise joy that comes from late-blooming success. The death of his friend and mentor Dizzy Gillespie leaves Rodney as the surviving bebop trumpet icon and, as was the case with Gillespie, his style remains remarkably intact: if anything, the free wide range of his uncluttered ideas marks Rodney as a better player at 65 than he was at 25. Even with all that in mind, Red Rodney is not the only reason to catch Red Rodney's quintet. For the last three years the band has equally starred Chris Potter, the 22-year-old saxist whose solo logic at times recalls the young Sonny Rollins. Potter (whose debut CD, on the Dutch label Criss Cross, arrives next month) brings a bountiful. maturity to his unquestioned technical skill: an old soul in charge of young fingers. Friday through Sunday, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

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