Wet, Wet, Wet

Little did we know Thursday night, but when jazz hipster and vocalist Kurt Elling opened his set with Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, he couldn't have been more prescient.  The rains came a song-and-a-half into Dianne Reeves Friday night set at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion.

Chicago singer Maggie Brown introduced the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master by noting Reeves' versatility.  She is comfortable with standards from Dylan, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac, and a host of other pop stars.  She has celebrated Sarah Vaughan, performed African-inspired folk music, and worked with Sergio Mendes, among many others.  

Well the next time she is in Chicago, she might want to start with Wade in the Water, follow it with Take Me to the River, and close with Purple Rain.  Along the way, she might throw in Stormy Monday, Rainy Night in Georgia, and Singin in the Rain. Reeves sounded great during the first song, which followed a rather lengthy funk number from her band. Reeves has some top-flight musicians backing her, as those guys had aptly demonstrated.

When the downpour began, we were told to take shelter immediately. I turned around, and saw sheets of rain coming down. I was under cover, but the winds were so strong that within two or three minutes I was drenched. I packed up my camera gear, and like 10,000 other souls, I headed to the underground parking garage to wait out the storm, which lasted for close to an hour.

Fortunately, we were treated to a lot of good music before the gigantic glass doors protecting the Pritzker Pavilion stage slid shut. Prior to Reeves, drummer Louis Hayes offered a straight-ahead set with his quintet. Hayes has been around since the mid-Fifties, having worked with Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, and Oscar Peterson, among many other notables. It was an enjoyable set, but not a memorable one.

Earlier on the main stage, the Sabertooth Organ Quartet celebrated its 25th anniversary. The quartet consists of Pat Mallinger (sax), Cameron Pfiffner (sax and flute), Peter Benson (organ), and Ted Sirota (drums). Top notch basic jazz by a unit that has clearly gelled after working so many years together.

During the day, I took in the Million Brazilian Project featuring Sarah Marie Young and blues guitarist, Guy King, who also doubles as Sarah Marie’s husband. Unfortunately, the light was not good, nor was the couple particularly well positioned, which is too bad. I captured no worthy images. They were obviously still in the throws of infatuation as they sang duets that brought to mind the best of Brazilian jazz. I will be keeping an eye open for them in the clubs.

At the Von Freeman Pavilion, I listened to sets by Greg Ward & 10 Tongues, Chris Speed, the Quinn Kirchner Quartet, and Junius Paul, who headed a quartet that included trumpeter Corey Wilkes. I always enjoy hearing Paul, who is the most stylishly dressed man on the Chicago jazz scene, and Wilkes, who now calls LA home.

The performing at the Von Freeman Pavilion always elicit a mixed reaction from me. Some of the music is bent, but great. In other cases, the musicians rely too much on abstract forms, which doesn’t always work for me. I, however, always appreciate the fact that we have so many young musicians making adventuresome music in Chicago. I’ve spent plenty of time in New York City clubs over the years. The Chicago scene is just as strong, if not stronger.

[Click on an image to enlarge it]

Roses Await Dianne

Reginald Veal Tunes His Plays Before Dianne Reeves Makes Her Entrance

Peter Martin, Musical Director and Pianist with Dianne Reeves

Romero Lubambo with Dianne Reeves

Terron Gully Keeping Time for Dianne

In the Moment

Another Side of Terron Gully

Louis Hayes Leads His Quintet

David Bryant with the Louis Hayes Quintet

Action/Reaction: Steve Nelson with the Louis Hayes Quintet

Smilin’ Dezron Douglas with the Louis Hayes Quintet

The Louis Hayes Quintet Takes a Bow

Sabertooth After 25 Years

Sabertooth's Ted Sirota Refuses Fascism in the Age of Trump

Cameron Pfiffner with Sabertooth

Pete Benson, Cameron Pfiffner, and Pat Mallinger with Sabertooth

Zara Zaharieva with the Million Brazilian Project

Cool Sunglasses

Ben LaMar Gay on Cornet with Greg Ward & Ten Tongues

Keefe Jackson with Greg Ward & Ten Tongues

Russ Johnson with Greg Ward & Ten Tongues

At the Von Freeman Stage

Chris Speed (and Dave King on Drums)

Nick Broste with Quin Kirchner

"Gimme a Head with Hair, Long Beautiful Hair, Shining, Gleaming Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen"

Nate Lepine with Quin Kirchner

Nick Mazzarella with Quin Kirchner

Quin Kirchner Leads His Group

Corey Wilkes Returns Home from LA

The Final Note

The Final Note

The Place to Be: The Cultural Center

The Place to Be: The Cultural Center