Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr.
Wow!!!! What a formula for a successful program. Two world class maestros, multi reedist Paquito D' Rivera and Jon Faddis leading the Chicago Jazz Ensemble(CJE). These two, along with the Ensemble and the Columbia College Vocal Jazz Ensemble (3CVJE) gave the Chicago audience an early Christmas present on December 12th at the Harris Theater as they paid tribute to the late Chicagoan, clarinetist Benny Goodman leading up to the anniversary of his 100th birthday.
Maestro Faddis opened up the program playing of the National Anthem. This appears to be a theme of Jon's as this writer has seen him do this during the past two CJE concerts. It's always nice to hear Jon play a trumpet solo, regardless of the nature of the song.
The group opened the concert with a Paquito arrangement of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee." Paquito demonstrated his skill with the alto sax on this banging number. They followed up the first number with a dedication to Dizzy Gillespie on Paquito's "I Remember Diz." This number featured trumpeter Tito Carrillo and Paquito on the clarinet, with a nice ending with chord from Dizzy's "Salt Peanuts."
3CVJE joined the fray on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Desafinado." This is a swinging group of young vocalist who really added a special touch to this concert. Again, Paquito was featured on the sax. Next, Faddis took center stage with a feature on Black Orpheus. Pianist Ryan Cohan(playing with CJE for the first time) and guitarist Frank Dawson, also were highlighted on this number. The first set ended with Saxophonist Pat Mallinger being featured on "Andalucia."
The second set began with what many consider to be Goodman's theme song, "Let's Dance." That number really got many audience members excited and "dancing" in their seats. "Jersey Bounce," in the mode of Count Basie was next. Paquito indicated many of Basie's band members joined Goodman on that famous 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall.
Again, Faddis called his own number and favored the audience with another feature on "And The Angel Sing." What a pleasure hearing those soooooooooooo high notes like only Jon Faddis can hit. Too often at CJE sets, Jon defers to the Ensemble, but on this night, he reminded those in attendance what a great trumpeter he is. Thanks Jon!!!
"Sing,Sing, Sing" was the final scheduled number of the night and showcased the skills of drummer Dana Hall. His slamming extended solo was reminiscent of Gene Krupa. What a way to end a great evening of swinging jazz.
As Paquito was completing the encore, Maestro Faddis called 3CVJE principal vocalist LaShera Moore back to the stage to join Paquito as they engaged in friendly bantering with LaShera demonstrating her "scatting" skills. This had to be an absolute highlight for this young singer to be side by side with the great Paquito D'Rivera and holding her own. A spectacular ending to another outstanding evening of jazz performed by D'Rivera, Faddis, and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.
CJE's next local performance will take place on Feb. 20th at the Harris Theater highlighting "The Great American Songbook," and featuring vocalist Bobbi Wilsyn. For detailed information about future CJE projects, refer to their website: www.chicagojazzensemble.com.