Chicago Breakdown: A Tribute to Art Hodes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Breakdown: A Tribute to Art Hodes 

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In all his is various roles--pianist, bandleader, journalist, raconteur--the jazz and blues musician Art Hodes proved himself an enthusiastic and valuable historian. For instance, at the height of the bebop era Hodes edited a publication (The Jazz Record) dedicated to the traditional jazz of the 20s and 30s--even as he was assembling a group of like-minded musicians to demonstrate the validity of that music with a series of famous recordings for the young Blue Note label. And almost right up until his death in March, at the age of 89, the Hodes piano style remained a historical repository of timeless blues lines and the jazz essences he had heard from Louis Armstrong while growing up in Chicago. So it's only fitting that historical concerns play a sizable role in the Jazz Institute of Chicago's tribute to Hodes. That makes pianist James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band, with their dead-on renditions of a variety of early Chicago jazz styles, a perfect choice: emboldened by Dapogny's arrangements, the group captures the letter and spirit of prewar jazz without sounding anachronistic. Among the special invitees, Chicagoans Franz Jackson, Truck Parham, and Bobby Lewis all worked with Hodes in a variety of contexts; the guest list also includes outlanders Kenny Davern--the terrific New York reedman who appeared with Hodes in two long-running trios--and Butch Thompson, the prairie-home revisitor of trad piano styles, who will re-create Hodes's notable solo gigs at such joints as Chicago's Liberty Inn and the Ross Tavern in New York. Saturday, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 427-1676 or 559-1212.


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