Rich Halley 4 | Skylark | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Rich Halley 4 Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Mon., March 31, 10 p.m. 2014

Chicagoans are lucky to live in such an important jazz city—this is one of the places where jazz came of age, and it’s retained a vital role in the music’s development over the past century. All that said, Chicago sometimes seems to pale next to the jazz megalopolis of New York, whose overwhelming size and gravitational pull can make musicians elsewhere feel irrelevant. New York’s dominance makes the going much harder for Seattle tenor saxophonist Rich Halley, a postbop seeker operating in a modest scene focused on mainstream sounds, but he’s nonetheless thrived. He’s released plenty of excellent quartet material on his own Pine Eagle label, and this weekend he rolls through town on a rare midwest tour with his superb working group—drummer Carson Halley (his son), Los Angeles trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, and bassist Clyde Reed. Halley’s scrappy recordings, among them the recent Crossing the Passes, sound a lot like the brawny, unfussy postbop that’s popular around these parts. He balances melodic generosity against a biting tone, which complements Vlatkovich’s garrulous, fatback sound; the two horn men dash off wry contrapuntal lines, comment upon or prod each other’s improvisations, or simply trade phrases. Reed’s muscular presence keeps the group anchored even at its most frenzied moments, driving each tune inexorably forward. Sometimes Carson Halley pushes a loping funk groove that’s a bit on the extroverted side, even for his father’s catchy compositions, but most of time he locks in with an aggressive swing. Rarely does no-frills freebop sound this satisfying and soulful. Halley also performs at Hungry Brain on Sun 3/30. —Peter Margasak

Price: $5 suggested donation

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