Rajim Halim

Room 43, Chicago, IL
March 10, 2011

Rajiv Halim

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2011

The future of Jazz in Chicago is in good hands if the March 10th Hyde Park Jazz Society's weekly set at Room 43 on the South Side is any indication. Alto saxophonist Rajiv Halim and his band of twenty- something (minus one) bandmates really wowed this sophisticated audience. These young men played with passion and poise while thoroughly entertaining those in attendance. Band leader Halim burst on the scene over a year ago when he accompanied his mentor, trumpeter Orbert Davis on stage in this same room and continues to develop as a musician, composer and leader.

Joining Rajiv on this evening was trumpeter Marquis Hill, keyboardist Martez Rucker, bassist Lane Beckstrom, vibraphonist Justin Thomas, and veteran drummer extraordinaire Charles "Rick" Heath. Some of these young phenoms have been gaining valuable experience in recent years jamming with the likes of Orbert Davis, Ari Brown and Corey Wilkes to name a few. But on this Sunday evening, Rajiv and his sextet were in charge. In addition to standards, several selections played were numbers penned by Rajiv.

They opened the evening with Cannonball Adderly's "Money In The Pocket." Both trumpeter Hill and Rajiv warmed up with solid extended solos, followed by the "cool" keyboardist Martez Rucker. It became obvious early on as they played Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," that all ensemble members would play a major role in making this gig a success. Vibraphonist Thomas took advantage of his first solo to the amazement of the crowd. His rapid action attack took some by surprise as he quickly had the attention of all present. This listener is certain that most audience members had not seen most of these young men before, but their first impression was positive. Not to be upstaged by these "youngsters," veteran timekeeper Heath showcased a smooth, fluid commanding solo toward the conclusion of this "hot" number.,

Marquis and Rajiv alternated lead on Bill Lee's beautiful ballad, "Again Never." Marquis used his flugelhorn to express himself while Rajiv blew sweet notes with his alto. The entire ensemble again stretched on long solos on Joe Henderson's "Serenity." The crowd responded with a rousing ovation.

"Wise Man," a number Rajiv wrote for his father saw him at his best as he blew fast, bright flourishes with a bold attack on each note. Thomas provided the highlight of the evening on the vibe when he followed with passionate playing while going into overdrive. Mr. Heath also got a piece of the action on this number.

Being the "wise man" that he is, Rajiv also played "The Hard Worker," a number he wrote honoring his mother. Bassist Beckstrom, finally had an opportunity to demonstrate his skill while Thomas again stood out.

What a fine evening of music played by some of Chicago's up and coming stars. This listener honestly did not know what to expect, yet these young men played with the poise of veterans and passion of the youth. Kudos to the Hyde Park Jazz Society for their continued effort to expose the community to new and unheralded musicians as they strive to find their place in the Chicago Jazz scene.

Be sure to check out www.hydeparkjazzsociety.com for details about their future events.

Marquis Hill & Rajiv Halim

Martez Rucker

Lane Beckstrom

Justin Thomas

Marquis Hill

Charles "Rick" Heath

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