On his annual Chicago visit, veteran alto saxophonist Charles McPherson honors Charlie Parker | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

On his annual Chicago visit, veteran alto saxophonist Charles McPherson honors Charlie Parker 

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click to enlarge Charles McPherson

Charles McPherson

Nick Reuchel

Nearly every August, veteran alto saxophonist Charles McPherson rolls into Chicago for an engagement at the Jazz Showcase, part of the club’s annual celebration August Is Charlie Parker Month. McPherson famously re-created Parker’s playing on the soundtrack of the 1988 Clint Eastwood biopic Bird, but while you can certainly hear Parker’s influence on his output, McPherson has always been his own man. For this listener, the work he performed with Charles Mingus between 1960 and 1972 will always stand as his greatest achievement—at Mingus’s side, McPherson jousted with a variety of killer horn players in gospelized settings both charged and serene. On his own he’s been a model of reliability, craft, and beauty, imbuing his lines with a mix of rhythmic fleetness and tonal bite. At the age of 78, he shows no signs of slowing down, and his protean attack and lyric beauty are undiminished on his high-flying 2015 album The Journey (Capri). For this year’s visit McPherson is joined by drummer George Fludas, bassist Jeff Hamann, and pianist Mark Davis.   v

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