Tracing The Evolution Of Lost Chicago Jazz | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Tracing The Evolution Of Lost Chicago Jazz

Play associated audio

Drummer Mike Reed put together his quartet People, Places and Things to play music by their 1950s forebears. But it makes sense that, after a few years together, they'd also play later pieces, tracking the evolution of Chicago jazz on a new album titled Clean on the Corner. One dividend of their repertory work is that it inspires Reed to write his own tunes in the same spirit, like "The Lady Has a Bomb."

In the last few years, the quartet has played dozens of gigs in Chicago, on tour in the U.S. and in Europe. Drummer Reed and bassist Jason Roebke have grown into a tight and flexible rhythm team. Saxophonists Tim Haldeman and Greg Ward on alto know how and when to blend and diverge and get in or out of each other's way.

Playing all those swinging hard-bop tunes has sparked Mike Reed as a drummer. His broad beat and accents are very Chicago, a little more casual than New York pressure-cooker swing. Chicagoans have long pursued a third-coast middle way, a little cooler than back east and hotter than out west. In the '60s, New York free jazz was frenetic; Chicago's was quieter and more carefully paced. People, Places and Things honors that legacy, too. Mike Reed's "December?" reverses the usual roles between the front line and rhythm section. Saxophones play in quiet support, while bass and drums float on top.

Most of the tunes on Clean on the Corner are new, but there's an oldie by the Chicago composer the band champions above all: overlooked bop saxophonist John Jenkins. His "Sharon" features a loose guest appearance by new star pianist and fellow Midwesterner Craig Taborn.

As composer, Mike Reed has a knack for slow tunes that linger in the ear. In two of them, the quartet is joined by cornetist Josh Berman, who has that lag-behind-and-then-catch-up Chicago timing. Reed based the composition "House of Three Smiles" on a recorded solo by his vibraphonist buddy Jason Adasiewicz. It's a sign that these days, People, Places and Things' members don't just preserve the Chicago tradition; they're helping extend it.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

For P.D. James, A Good Mystery Celebrated Human Intelligence

The British author of best-selling detective stories has died at age 94. "In a sense, the detective story is a small celebration of reason and order in our very disorderly world," she told NPR.
NPR

Can Breeders Cure What Ails Our Breast-Heavy Turkeys?

The standard commercial American turkey is the product of decades of intense selective breeding. But breeding for efficiency and size has created new health problems scientists must grapple with.
NPR

EPA's Proposed Rules Add To Obama's Collision Course With GOP

The Environmental Protect Agency has drafted regulations on Ozone pollution. The latest move exposes divisions between the Obama administration and leading Republican lawmakers over the environment.
NPR

Millennial Doctors May Be More Tech-Savvy, But Is That Better?

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennials are the next generation of doctors and they're not afraid to say "chillax" in a consultation or check Twitter to find medical research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.