The Velvet Birdhouse Coalition Presents
The Corey Wilkes Quintet

South Loop Hotel - L26 Restaurant, Chicago, IL
January 21, 2011

Corey Wilkes Quintet
Corey Wilkes Quintet

Story by Brad Walseth, Photos by John Broughton, Copyright 2011

The passing of beloved jazz patriarch Fred "Baaba Fred" Anderson and the subsequent closing of his Velvet Lounge has left a huge gap in the Chicago jazz scene. Fred nurtured many of the best young jazz artists in the city by providing a club where musicians could earn their chops and grow. Anderson's far reaching influence is amazing: in speaking with Bad Plus drummer Dave King, last spring, he spoke fondly of Fred and the opportunities the veteran saxophonist gave him by booking Dave's former group to the club. The shuttering of the doors of the Velvet has reverberated throughout the city and has left a huge hole in the south side. Fortunately, some of Fred's former friends, associates and protegees, led by flautist Nicole Mitchell, are looking to fill the vacuum. The Velvet Birdhouse Coalition (named for both of Fred's former clubs) is sponsoring shows at the lovely South Loop Hotel's L26 Restaurant, locate conveniently at 2600 S. State St. just a few block from the Velvet site on Cermak.

The first concert presented by the Velvet Birdhouse Coalition occurred Friday January 21, 2011, and featured the Corey Wilkes Quintet. Trumpter Wilkes was accompanied by saxophonist Kevin Nabors, drummer Isaiah Spencer, keyboardist Justin Dillard and bassist Christian Dillingham, and this group performed a dynamic evening of Charlie Parker tunes (in honor of Anderson whose admiration of Bird was well known) and '60s and '70s electric Miles. The club was packed with luminaries such as Howard Reich of the Tribune and noted critic Neil Tesser showing their support as these fine musicians inaugurated this venture with zeal. The venue, although lacking an actual stage, is comfortable and offers food and drinks and seems to fit successfully the bill to serve some of the needs of the South Loop jazz fans. Mitchell herself will lead a quartet set with guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Avreeayl Ra on Friday February 25 that should be outstanding and hopefully will draw an equally large number of attendees. We hope to see you all there to support this great cause and keep Baaba Fred's memory alive.

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