Jon Faddis | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jon Faddis 

In a postconcert jam session during this year's Chicago Jazz Festival, trumpeter Jon Faddis cleared the air (and more than a few sinuses) with three well-carbureted solos: each blended high-octane power with airborne ideas, creating a combustible compound that left his bandmates cheering along with the audience. The best news was that Faddis's flamboyant yet brainy solos bore little trace of Dizzy Gillespie, his initial inspiration and his eventual prison. As the 19-year-old phenom who joined the bands of Charles Mingus and Thad Jones in the early 70s, Faddis wowed listeners with a raw power and splendiferous technique copped directly from vintage Gillespie. But a decade later, still yoked to that influence, Faddis had become the Man Who Should Have Been Wynton--shouldered aside in favor of the newer-model horn sensation, eclipsed by Marsalis in terms of both musical innovation and influence. The fact that Faddis could come back to develop an individuated but still glorious style, conquering his own history in the process, says much about his resiliency. And he's even moved onto Wynton's own turf. Marsalis launched Lincoln Center's jazz repertory company four years ago; Faddis serves as musical director of the newer Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and has recently earned critical plaudits for his programming. Here Faddis will appear as guest soloist with the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble, and the repertoire will include at least one piece recorded by Gillespie's own big band. Years ago, that might have been a warning signal; but Faddis's hard-won musical maturity offers the tantalizing promise of reinterpretation rather than recapitulation. Friday and Saturday, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

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

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