Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chicago Jazz Festival 2013: Thursday

First up - apologies for being slack with the updates. Now I'm playing catch up.
Chicago Jazz Festival: August 29 - September 1st
I could only get along to the first three days as I was in NYC from September 1st. Here's a brief rundown of some of what I heard. Hopefully I can remember the ins and outs of it all - sometimes my notebook is a little vague. 

Thursday: Chicago Cultural Center
Arrived during the set by Fat Babies - a retro Chicago-style group playing traditional jazz from the 1920's & 30's - Beau Sample (b) Alex Hall (d) Jake Sanders (banjo) Paul Asaro (p) Dave Bock (tb) John Otto (alto sax/clar) Andy Schumm (cornet) & John Doyle (tenor sax). The over-flowing crowd had me listening from the staircase… an obstructed view but the band we sounding good.
Then headed upstairs for Randy Weston's solo piano set. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Weston's (though I have barely scratched the surface of his music). Not much written in my notebook here. The set had it's moments, he played well but I left feeling a bit like "Ok, I've seen Randy Weston…. next."

The evening concert in Millennium Park was Jack DeJohnette's Special Legends Edition Chicago. A title like that needs some weight behind it….and there was - joining DeJohnette (drums) were Muhal Richard Abrams (piano) Larry Gray (bass/cello) Roscoe Mitchell (alto/soprano/sopranino saxes, recorder and flute) and Henry Threadgill (alto sax/bass flute). 
I often feel wary of the "all-star" groups thrown together for festivals this set did not disappoint. Playing original works by Abrams, Mitchell, DeJohnette and Threadgill and a free improvisation (I think) for the encore, it was a very cohesive set of uncompromising music. Wonderful to hear these guys till going strong and taking the music places. A great opening night for the main stage in front of a sizable crowd (I was down the front was it was a bit hard to judge numbers on the lawn).

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