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The Reader's Guide to the 31st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival: Friday

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Young Jazz Lions Stage

Noon The Jazz Improv Collective

1 PM Morgan Park Academy Jazz Ensemble

2 PM Saint Charles High School Jazz Ensemble

3 PM Columbia College Jazz Ensemble

Jazz on Jackson

Noon Ernie Adams Trio with special guest Richie Cole Local drummer Ernie Adams has had his highest-profile gigs in the realms of fusion and commercial jazz—he's toured and recorded with Al DiMeola and Ramsey Lewis—but he's also well-versed in bop. Today he'll play in a trio with Henry Johnson on guitar and Stewart Miller on bass, joined by hard-charging alto saxophonist Richie Cole. —PM

1:10 PM Fareed Haque & the Flat Earth Ensemble On Flat Planet (Owl Studios), the debut CD by this genre-bending band, Chicago guitarist Fareed Haque brings proggy complexity to a mix of funk, Indian music, and jazz. The Flat Earth Ensemble's great fusion motor combines trap kit and tabla, recalling Joe Harriott and John Mayer's classic 60s Indo-jazz experiments, but the group's sound is thoroughly contemporary. Haque's always been a terrific player, and he certainly gets to strut his syncretic stuff here. —JC

2:20 PM Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown Jazz has produced some illustrious vibraphonists, but the list of current top-shelf players is a short one—there's Bobby Hutcherson, Khan Jamal, Gary Burton, and maybe a few more. Young Chicago vibist Jason Adasiewicz belongs near the top of that list these days. He's an expansive improviser with a responsive ear and a talent for writing exciting compositions, which his outstanding quintet Rolldown gives the spotlight they deserve—its granite-solid lineup features hyperexpressive cornetist Josh Berman, gentle alto saxophonist Aram Shelton, propulsive bassist Jason Roebke, and the fabulous Frank Rosaly on drums. Their self-titled debut, which came out on 482 Music last year, hinted at their limber fluidity as a live unit. The follow-up, Varmint, is due this fall on the prog-rock-friendly Cuneiform label, which speaks volumes about its structural intrigue and formal complexity, but the music nonetheless feels loose and fresh, whether the band's launching into rollicking swing or breaking up time; the album's reminiscent of Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch not just in its general aesthetic but in the pivotal role it gives to the vibes. —JC

3:30 PM Esperanza Spalding Esperanza Spalding has been turning a lot of heads lately: she shows off her skills as a bassist on Joe Lovano's fine Folk Art (Blue Note), which came out this spring, and in May she performed at the White House. Her own Esperanza (Heads Up) doesn't do her justice, though. The music connects light jazz and R & B, putting the emphasis on her pleasant voice and mixing in Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian rhythms, but it doesn't dig very deep—Spalding's own songs pale next to her Spanish-language take on "Body & Soul" and her cover of Milton Nascimento's "Ponta de Areia." I'll be excited to hear an album where she uses the full spectrum of her talents, but Esperanza isn't it. For this set she's joined by pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Otis Brown III, and guitarist Richard Vogt. —PM

Jazz & Heritage Stage

12:30 PM Dudley Owens Quintet Local saxophonist Dudley Owens studied under brilliant alto man Bunky Green at the University of North Florida, but another great alto saxist seems to have exerted a greater influence on him: Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. Owens has a thing for the sweetly soulful, gospel-tinged sound Adderley made famous—one of the precursors of soul jazz—and even when he tackles something miles away, like John Coltrane's searching ballad "Naima," his tone and phrasing remain warm, tender, and accessible. He leads a quintet with excellent trumpeter David Young, bassist Brandon Meeks, pianist Keith Javors, and drummer Mark Lomax. —PM

2 PM Diane Delin Quartet On disc, violinist and Evanston native Diane Delin has soloed in front of an armada of strings and played fiery small-group Latin jazz, but even in relatively combustible settings she never sounds like she's breaking a sweat. For better or worse, you can tap your toe to every bar of her music—there aren't any surprises to throw you off. —BM

3:30 PM Bob Seeley & Bob Baldori The piano duo of Bob Seeley and Bob Baldori devote all four of their hands to boogie-woogie, the rolling, bluesy style popularized in the 30s and 40s by talents like Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons. Seeley was friends with Lewis from the late 40s till his death in 1964, a relationship that helped him develop his strong rhythmic drive; Baldori first made his mark in the late 60s with Detroit band the Woolies, who scored a minor hit with "Who Do You Love," and spent many years as Chuck Berry's pianist. There's not much to differentiate this stuff from music made 70 years ago, but it's too vibrant to sound like a museum exhibit. —PM

Petrillo Music Shell

5 PM Jeff Parker Quartet Lately guitarist Jeff Parker has spent most of his time in rock-based or creative-music ensembles, where he can turn his immense musical imagination loose in almost any direction, but in this group he'll show off what he picked up working in relatively straight-ahead jazz bands led by organists. Sabertooth's Pete Benson is the outstanding organist in this quartet, which also includes saxophonist Scott Burns and inexhaustible veteran drummer George Fludas. —JC

6 PM The Trio featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchell When trombonist and computer musician George Lewis wrote A Power Stronger Than Itself (University of Chicago Press), the first in-depth academic study of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he took pains not to impose an oversimplified narrative on its history, instead rendering each of the disparate and conflicting voices that constituted the organization, which has exerted a profound influence on Chicago jazz since the 60s. Likewise this trio, which includes saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, the festival's current artist in residence—both were founding members of the AACM—emphasizes dialogue and give-and-take rather than a single ruling vision. On the group's splendid 2005 album, Streaming (Pi Recordings), almost any material—convoluted melodies, dense blocks of sound, stoic expositions of timbre and texture, disorienting insinuations of sampled birdsong or choral singing—is fair game, and it's just as fair to challenge an element as it is to introduce one. Putting such uncompromising music on the big stage is a gutsy move by the Jazz Institute, but this may turn out be the most rewarding set of the festival. —BM

7:10 PM Madeleine Peyroux On her latest album, Bare Bones (Rounder), singer Madeleine Peyroux is still delivering smoky, jazz-kissed cabaret folk, steeped in the romantic atmosphere of Left Bank cafes—not a shocking sound coming from an American expat who spent most of her 20s busking in Paris. What's different about the new disc is that Peyroux had a hand in writing every tune. But between her occasionally ridiculous lyrics—"Homeless Happiness," an appreciation of the simple life on the streets, has to be heard to be believed—and her generally hook-free melodies, I think she'd be better off sticking to interpretations of other people's songs. Her fine band includes keyboardist Gary Versace, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, guitarist Pat Bergeson, and drummer Darren Beckett. Peyroux also plays some guitar. —PM

8:30 PM Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet Miami-based Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a fearsome technician with an avid curiosity about much more than just the music of his homeland—he's also deeply knowledgeable about classical music, various Latin and South American folk traditions, and all stripes of jazz. He's an intensely disciplined performer, so much so that I sometimes wish he'd loosen his grip on his music a bit. On last year's wonderful Avatar (Blue Note) he didn't exactly go wild, but he did invite the members of his killer young band to contribute tunes. In many ways Rubalcaba's 90s work presaged the current state of Latin jazz in New York, with players like Dafnis Prieto and Yosvany Terry formulating sophisticated hybrid sounds without surrendering the music's distinctive polyrhythmic drive. Rubalcaba's group is his first to draw on that newer generation for its lineup—it includes saxophonist Terry, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, bassist Matt Brewer, and phenomenal drummer Marcus Gilmore—and unsurprisingly its members share his interest and fluency in a wide range of genres outside jazz. This set is guaranteed to smolder, and it could well turn out be the fieriest of the festival. —PM

Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Afterfest Shows

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