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Live at Studio5: JERU

  • Studio5 (in Dance Center Evanston) 1934 West Dempster Street Evanston, IL, 60202 United States (map)

$18-22. Click HERE for tickets.

Art Davis, trumpet

Ted Hogarth, bari sax

Joe Policastro, bass

Mikel Avery, drums

Here comes one of my favorite topics. The 1950s was a creatively fertile time for jazz, as forms and structures were reimagined, genres blended and boundaries challenged. One of the innovations of that era which has stood the test of time and remains some of my favorite music ever is the piano-less quartet of Gerry Mulligan. Prior to Mulligan’s experiments, jazz groups traditionally had some sort of rhythmic or percussive element to provide pulse and drive, some sort of melodic instrument(s) to provide linear, melodic movement, and at least one chording instrument (capable of playing more than one note at a time) like a guitar or piano, to provide harmonic information and context. Most popular music still contains some version of these three instrumental components. Well, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan conducted some seemingly simple, but musically radical, experiments using a group without a chording instrument: No piano, no guitar. His quartet was simply baritone saxophone, trumpet, bass and drums. So all the harmonic information – the chords, the key, the harmonic movement – was created simply by the combinations of notes made by the linear “pitched” instruments: The trumpet, bari sax and bass. Much of that harmonic information was actually just implied rather than stated, and the result was an open, airy, clear ensemble sound that, owing to the brilliant arrangements and artistry of the musicians, didn’t suffer from the lack of “chords”, but actually benefitted from their absence. This concept wasn’t new to music, by the way, but it certainly was new to mid-century jazz, and the results were beautiful. Several years ago, my friend, Joe Policastro did something for which I am very grateful: He created a group following the model of Gerry Mulligan’s original quartet, called Jeru. This ensemble, to me, is like a wonderful musical gift. I have worn out many records by that original Mulligan quartet, and I am so looking forward to hearing recreations of some of those classic pieces performed live on our Studio5 stage, along with some of the group’s own creations in the same style … with an ultra-talented quartet. If you’d like to hear Jeru, click HERE for some examples. Then I’ll see you at Studio5 for an evening of some of the most sublime music imaginable. We’ll be recording this performance for Chicago Jazz Live on WDCB, so come be part of the audience. –SR

Cash bar, light snacks, free parking right outside! Doors open at 7:30.