Winard Harper Sextet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Winard Harper Sextet

by

comment

Like his model Art Blakey, 42-year-old drummer Winard Harper leads his band with a remarkable combination of flamboyant rhythms and an almost invisible pulse: he disappears behind his sidemen's solo statements, except for the split second when a burst of percussion provides the punctuation. He's followed Blakey's legacy in other ways too. The Jazz Messengers provided an invaluable training ground for three generations of future bandleaders--from Horace Silver and Johnny Griffin in the 50s to Wayne Shorter and Freddie Hubbard in the 60s to the Marsalis brothers and Terence Blanchard in the 80s--and from the formation of his first band in the mid-80s (with his brother Philip on trumpet), Harper has sought to create a similar launchpad for young mainstreamers. His current sextet has future star Jeb Patton on piano; Patrick Rickman, a brash trumpeter in the strong-willed style of Freddie Hubbard; and the fluid saxist Brian Horton. The band's forthcoming live recording, Come Into the Light (Savant), reveals a lively, well-rounded group eager to stretch their abilities. Like the Messengers', Harper's repertoire relies heavily on new compositions from band members while mixing in a few standards and jazz chestnuts. But unlike Blakey, Harper writes some of the tunes himself, and in a radical departure for a drummer with such a strong command of both the beat and its permutations, his sextet includes a separate percussionist: Alioune Faye plays the djembe and its cousin the sabar, freeing up Harper to join in occasionally on balafon. Tuesday, March 23, through Thursday, March 25, 8 and 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, March 28, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →