I started off with a trip to Ravinia to hear the Steans Music Institute jazz showcase. This concert capped off a week of intensive jazz study for 15 up-and-coming undergraduate and graduate students from the finest college music programs in the country. They were put into three quintets, and each group played five tunes, all of which were composed by the band members. They were led by some of our most esteemed jazz educators, including Dr. David Baker, trombonist Curtis Fuller, and bassist Rufus Reid. It was a great evening of music with a lot of fine soloing and unique compositional voices. I will definitely put this concert on my must-see list for June 2015.
Next I checked out DHS alum Greg Spero with his trio playing a homecoming gig in Highland Park at Vibe at 1935. Greg played piano in our jazz band and trumpet in the concert bands and marching band. He has since carved out quite a nice career for himself as a jazz pianist and keyboardist. This gig featured a lot of tunes from his most recent album, Electric. I especially dug his Bollywood meets Herbie Hancock number called "Raga."
I was very proud to see my former student with his killer bandmates Junius Paul on bass and Makaya McCraven on drums. Check them out if you get a chance!
My next event was a trip into the city to see Sting's new musical The Last Ship at the Bank One Theatre. Despite the fact that it took over two hours to drive there from the north suburbs, it was a very enjoyable show. The story is about the relationship between fathers and sons set against the backdrop of a dying shipyard in the north of England. The performances were strong, and I enjoyed the music. The tunes are varied with lots of traditional fiddle sounds, but there are little hints of Sting's individual style - a chord here or a bit of melody there. It sounds at times like one of his early solo albums, The Soul Cages, but it is definitely a musical theatre score, as opposed to a bunch of pop tunes strung together to make a "jukebox musical."
My last live music event was an old-fashioned "house concert." We had a guest musician, Matthew Clark, singing in our Sunday morning service at church, and one of the families hosted him in their living room that evening for an intimate performance. It was great to hear a singer/songwriter who knows more than four chords and can really get around on an acoustic guitar. Matthew sang and told stories about his life, and about 30 of us had a great time listening and chatting with him. There's actually a long history of house concerts in Western society--before recorded sound, if you wanted to hear music it had to be live. Think about all of the great Classical Era music that was performed for dinner parties, including many serenades by people like Mozart. What a wonderful tradition to bring back.
Later this week, we'll be off to Ravinia for our first Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert of the season. Looking forward to hearing one of the finest orchestras in the world!