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Best of Chicago 2009 

Best Jazz Act

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Best Jazz Act: Mike Reed's People, Places & Things

Best Jazz Act: Mike Reed's People, Places & Things

Johnathan Crawford

The Reader's Choice: Mike Reed's People, Places & Things

Mike Reed formed this quartet, which also includes saxophonists Greg Ward and Tim Haldeman and bassist Jason Roebke, to interpret lost postbop classics written in Chicago in the late 50s. The rapport within the band is electric, particularly between Ward and Haldeman, who alternate sharp contrapuntal lines, cajoling ad libs, and inspired solos—and neither ever simply lays out while the other takes the spotlight. Reed's inventive arrangements maintain the essence of the songs—originally by the likes of Sun Ra, John Jenkins, Wilbur Campbell, and Oscar Brown Jr.—but also draw on developments from the decades after they were written. The quartet's debut album, Proliferation (482 Music), was one of my favorites last year, and the live shows I caught were never less than exhilarating. For their concert last summer at Millennium Park, Reed and Ward developed new, thoroughly contemporary arrangements for an octet version of People, Places & Things that made the group's historical engagement concrete—trumpeter Art Hoyle, trombonist Julian Priester, and reedist Ira Sullivan, who joined the band for the occasion, were all active on the Chicago scene in the 50s. A new album is due later this year; the band's next show is at the Charleston on April 18.  mikereedmusic.com/proliferation.cfm. —Peter Margasak

& Our readers' choice: Joel Paterson & the Modern Sounds

 myspace.com/joelpaterson.

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