Clayton Brothers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Clayton Brothers 

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Jazz has had some great brother acts over the years, including the Adderleys, the Heaths, and the Joneses (Hank, Thad, and Elvin); these days twins Marcus and E.J. Strickland are playing together in New York, and various Marsalises reunite from time to time. Based in LA, the Clayton brothers may not get a lot of attention from the east-coast-centric jazz press, but they do lead one sparkling, high-powered quintet. Out in front, reedist Jeff Clayton combines a potent, throaty alto style--most familiar to Chicago listeners from his playing on Kurt Elling's 2001 album Flirting With Twilight--with a gentler but equally expansive spirit when he switches to flute. Directing the band from behind, his brother John, a Ray Brown protege, displays intonation and technique (shaped by five years as principal bassist with the Amsterdam Philharmonic) that regularly inspire awe among his colleagues. The Clayton Brothers band was a sporadically working quartet from its beginnings in 1977 until 2000, when they signaled a seeming new level of seriousness by adding Terell Stafford to the mix. Trained as a classical trumpeter, Stafford embraced jazz in college, and he's since developed into an often ferocious and largely captivating improviser, as evidenced on his own several discs--including New Beginnings, his first for the Maxjazz label, released last month. Continuing the infusion of Gen-X all-stars, the Claytons will also feature (at least for this engagement) the well-regarded pianist Eric Reed, a veteran of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra whose stylistic range is apparent in such albums as Manhattan Melodies, a 1999 collection of New York-themed originals and rock and jazz covers, and the newly released Mercy and Grace (Nagel Heyer), a solo record of spirituals. Thursday, July 3, 8 and 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, July 4 and 5, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, July 6, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Photographer.

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