Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, this series includes hour-long basic dance lessons followed by live music and dancing.
Pianist Gerald Clayton has recorded every one of his three albums since moving from his native Los Angeles to New York seven years ago, and in that brief time his music has undergone a dramatic transformation from brisk and lively post-Oscar Peterson postbop to burnished, thoroughly contemporary jazz that borrows rhythmic ideas from hip-hop and dices them up with staggering technique. He pushes even further on his latest album, Life Forum (Concord Jazz), beefing up his core trio of bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown with three horn players (trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and saxophonists Logan Richardson and Dayna Stephenson) and two vocalists, Gretchen Parlato and Sachal Vasandani, who add refined wordless singing. Clayton’s dense, translucent arrangements frequently function as set pieces for his improvisations, even when the horns and voices stick to composed material, and he incorporates a pop-soul influence similar to what you’ll hear on records by Parlato and Robert Glasper. Clayton composed all the music, and he often revels in its lush, complex harmonies while the horns and singers move in elegant counterpoint against the core trio’s fleet movements—on the hard-driving “Some Always,” for instance, he and Akinmusire play an extended passage in precise unison over a churning, frenetic groove. When it’s just the core trio, as on the skittering “Sir Third,” the borderline telepathic rapport Clayton has developed with the band comes to the fore, especially when he and Brown navigate rapid-fire tangles of rhythmic displacements or trade phrases so quickly your ears barely have time to process the exchanges. I’d love to hear the full ensemble play this music, but the trio is so sharp that these new pieces will survive the transition just fine. —Peter Margasak $20-$45
Chicago-based artist Rahmaan Statik explores themes of identity, technology, and consumerism through depictions of contemporary African American women. Reception Fri 5/24, 6-10 PM.
Rahmaan Statik's illustrations feature the relationship that the African American identity has with the mining of coltan. Reception Fri 6/24 6-10 PM.
Tanya Aguiniga, a furniture designer from Los Angeles, presents new multidisciplinary work that explores Midwest topography and seeks "to find a space between art and design." Reception Fri 3/15, 6-8 PM.
For the past few years Mavado has been in the same predicament that’s afflicted so many other dancehall superstars: he’s practically a demigod in Jamaica, but barely anyone in the U.S. knows who he is. This is despite the fact that his American fan base consists not just of dancehall geeks but also of massive rap stars. Jay-Z and Drake are fans, Snoop and French Montana have both featured him as a guest on songs, and hip-hop kingmaker DJ Khaled has signed him to a record deal. But even given his lack of crossover in the States so far, Mavado could still break out here: his signature style is supersmooth, highly melodic, and unlikely to strike an audience already acclimated to Sean Paul as too exotic to handle. Then again, he seems to be doing just fine without us. —Miles Raymer DJ Ringo and One Blood open. $35, $49.95 VIP
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