Review by James Walker
Chicago is very fortunate to have premier trumpet player Corey Wilkes still around this area perfroming. This writer never misses an opportunity to witness this brilliant young man at his best. Although the assembled crowd was very appreciative and the enthusiastic Friday night, I was disappointed that the room at the HotHouse was not at capacity.
In addition, added to this bill was Chicago's hardest working female jazz vocalist - the talented and lovely Ms. Dee Alexander. Either of these two stars alone should have filled this room. Nevertheless, the entire night was extremely exciting. Performing as "Blank Slang" Corey shared the stage with a few of his favorite sidemen: Anthony Capers held down the best on the drums and entertained with his powerful solos and good-natured expressions, Junius Paul performed with his usual admirable aplomb on the bass guitar, young Wilkes protege Jabari Liu played the tenor sax, and the up and coming Marcin Fahmy dazzled on the keys: these young men were a phenomenom. One could easily observe that they had played together on other occasions by the ease with which they transitioned from solo to solo without missing a beat.
> Longtime Wilkes associate Jabari was especially effective this evening, as he did not attempt to "overplay," as his youthful exuberance has led him to do during previous gigs I have witnesed. More maturity was in evidence as the young man played with more control and did not overextend his solo spots.
What more can one say about Corey that hasn't previously been chronicled. His playing on his horn is always inspired, and he easily swings between an engaging soft muted tone on ballads to Satchmo-like pyrotechnics on the up-tempo numbers, and he isn't afraid to throw in some pedal effects for good measure. He seems to really enjoy being in front of an audience and played zeal and gusto this night as usual. In addition, Corey is a brilliant front man who has no problem sharing the stage with his collegues, and tonight was no exception.
On this night an added bonus was the appearance of young tap dance phenom Jumaane Taylor. Although Dee is primarily known as a jazz singer, this eveining she demonstrated her versatility by singing (and scatting) everything from jazz standards and Corinne Rae Bailey to a burning James Brown tribute at the opposite end of the spectrum. She even attempted some of JB's dance moves to the delight of the crowd. It was a particular pleasure seeing this fabulous singer disply her range of abilities across many musical genre.
Overall, this was a very good night of varied musical entertainment by some of Chicago's most talented performers. It is unfortunate that the room was not SRO for a show of this caliber, and that so many Chicagoans missed out on this opportunity. One wonders when Corey's talents might tempt him to leave the Chicago area - so it is imperitive that we savor his presence while we can. I heartily urge all Chicago jazz fans to catch Chicago's hottest young trumpet player while you can.
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