Thursday, November 4, 2010

Even More Jazz (That Isn't Umbrella)

Posted By on 11.04.10 at 12:13 PM

Randy Weston
  • Randy Weston
As great as the Umbrella Music Festival is, it's not the only game in town this week for jazz fans. In fact a couple of enticing events are happening later today, both before the second night of Umbrella gets underway at the Cultural Center.

At 4 PM the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College hosts a conversation with brilliant pianist and composer Randy Weston, followed by a book signing for his new African Rhythms: the Autobiography of Randy Weston (Duke). Admission is free, but seating is limited. The event is in the Ferguson Lecture Hall on the first floor of the 600 S. Michigan building.

Weston will give a trio performance (with bassist Alex Blake and percussionist Neil Clarke) and do another signing Friday evening at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets for that will set you back 45 bucks, but the price does include a copy of the pianist's excellent new album, The Storyteller: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (Motema). The album, which features a sharp sextet lineup (Blake, Clarke, drummer Victor Lewis, reedist T.K. Blue, and the late trombonist Benny Powell in one of his last recordings), proves how durable and indelible Weston's compositions are; "African Sunrise" (commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Festival in 1984), the mid-60s classic "African Cookbook," and the hard-bop standard "Hi Fly" all sound refreshed and vital. At the age of 84 Weston remains a thundering, authoritative pianist—he long ago absorbed the lessons of Duke Ellington and of his friend Thelonious Monk and fused them with elements from African music, and since then he's found seemingly endless depths in that hard-hitting hybrid.

Bobby Broom
  • Bobby Broom
Today at 5 PM local photographer and Reader contributor Michael Jackson will attend the opening reception for a new gallery show called "Jazz Portraits," featuring about 40 images of jazz artists he's shot over the years. Among the subjects are Sonny Rollins, Henry Threadgill, Cassandra Wilson, Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Mose Allison, and Wadada Leo Smith (who plays Sunday at the Hungry Brain as part of the closing night of the Umbrella fest). The exhibition is at Gallery 175 (175 W. Jackson, lobby) and runs through January 7, 2011.

Bobby Broom photo: Michael Jackson

Today's playlist:

Viv Albertine, Flesh (Ecstatic Peace!)
Gang Starr, No More Mr. Nice Guy (JCOR/Wild Pitch)
Cindytalk, The Crackle of My Soul (Editions Mego)
Mikrokolektyw, Revisit (Delmark)
Ingram Marshall, September Canons (New World)

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