Over the years the Chicago jazz scene has displayed amazing resilience, withstanding not just the defection of musicians to other cities but the loss of important venues. This time last year Joe Segal's venerable JAZZ SHOWCASE was still in search of a new location, but late this spring he reopened in Dearborn Station, and the club will once again host its famous afterfest shows, which typically draw many of the festival's best and most notable mainstream players. Multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, whose engagement at the club began Tuesday, has returned to his native city from Florida to lead the nightly jam sessions. Among the expected guests: guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeter Brian Lynch, bassist Bob Cranshaw, trombonist Julian Priester, and plenty of locals, including trumpeter Art Hoyle and pianists Ron Perrillo and Stu Katz. Sullivan will also play at the Showcase with saxophonist Benny Golson on Wednesday, September 3, in a tribute to legendary Chicago tenor man Johnny Griffin, who recently died in France at the age of 80—the event will be catered and unreleased performance footage of the Little Giant will be screened.
As usual Fred Anderson's VELVET LOUNGE will be hopping during Jazz Fest too. On Thursday night the entertainment is Vincent Davis's Percussion Plus with reedist Edward Wilkerson Jr. and bassist Harrison Bankhead, and on Friday it's the AACM Great Black Music Ensemble, a sprawling orchestra that usually includes flutist Nicole Mitchell, trombonist Lester Lashley, singer Dee Alexander, and reedists like Wilkerson, Ernest Dawkins, and Edwin Daugherty; for this afterfest edition reedist Roscoe Mitchell, keyboardist Amina Claudine Myers, and percussionist Thurman Barker will pitch in as well. On Saturday and Sunday the great New Orleans free-jazz saxophonist Edward "Kidd" Jordan, who's made his annual festival-time trip to Chicago once more, leads sessions with his old pal Anderson, joined by Bankhead on bass and Isaiah Spencer on drums.
Thursday is ELASTIC's regular improvised-music night, and during festival week that means a set led by Amsterdam-based reedist Michael Moore of the ICP Orchestra, who'll play his own tunes with bassist Jason Roebke, drummer Mike Reed, and pianist Jim Baker. (In case you've picked up the paper early, Moore is also at the Hideout on Wednesday with a different, larger group of locals.) KATERINA'S hosts the Southport All-Stars on Saturday, an ad hoc group featuring a number of artists from the label: trumpeter Bobby Lewis (who's got a brand-new Southport album called Instant Groove), pianists Bradley Parker-Sparrow and Dave Gordon, singers Joanie Pallatto and April Aloisio, drummer Geraldo de Oliveira, and bassist Eric Hochberg.
The HUNGRY BRAIN hosts what might be the two best nights of music during the festival, at least outside the lakefront parks. On Saturday brilliant Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg—coleader of the ICP Orchestra—opens with a rare solo set, and progressive drummer Gerald Cleaver headlines with his Violet Hour project, a killer band that includes saxophonists J.D. Allen and Andrew Bishop, bassist Chris Lightcap, and pianist Ben Waltzer. On Sunday night members of the ICP will perform in various small groups.
Up north at DANK HAUS, bassist Karl E.H. Seigfried hosts two very different nights of music with his Soul Power Trio, featuring saxophonist Aaron Getsug and drummer Chris Avgerin. On Friday they'll go acoustic, welcoming guests from the "jazz, rockabilly, classical, and avant-garde scenes" (their words), and on Saturday they'll plug in and invite players from the "hip-hop, metal, New Music, and modern jazz scenes."
At HEAVEN GALLERY in Wicker Park, reedist David Boykin hosts his annual Hereafter Festival, which runs throughout Jazz Fest. Boykin kicks things off on Thursday with his Microcosmic Sound Orchestra, and Friday's show includes Sacred Round—the duo of Joel Wanek (double bass, cello, percussion) and Jayve Montgomery (reeds, electronics, percussion)—and the Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, a group more than a dozen strong put together by violinist Renee Baker. Saturday's program begins with a solo piano set by Ben Boye and concludes with an ensemble led by flutist Nicole Mitchell. The mini fest concludes on Sunday with the excellent David Boykin Expanse—Boykin, Mitchell, bassist Josh Abrams, pianist Jim Baker, and drummer Marcus Evans—plus the Macrocosmic Sound Orchestra, a different incarnation of Thursday's band.
DANK Haus a 4740 N. Western, 773-561-9181, music at 10 PM Friday and SaturdayFA
Elastic a 2830 N. Milwaukee (second floor), 773-772-3616, music at 10 PM Thursday, donation requested A
Heaven Gallery a 1550 N. Milwaukee (second floor), 773-342-4597, music at 10 PM Thursday through Sunday, donation requested A
Hungry Brain a 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, music at 10 PM Saturday and Sunday, donation requested
Jazz Showcase a 809 S. Plymouth, 312-360-0234, music at 9 PM Thursday through Sunday, $20
Katerina's a 1920 W. Irving Park, 773-348-7592, music at 10 PM Saturday, $10
Velvet Lounge a 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, music at 10 PM Thursday through Sunday, $15 Thursday and Friday, $20 Saturday and Sunday