I’m a Chicago homie — long removed but never really gone — so don’t expect objectivity, but a recent visit proved my native metropolis is #1 in America and maybe everywhere for its active, creative, meaningful, almost-economically-viable, neighborhood-rooted, exploratory and world class jazz. I say this even as my dearly adopted New York City kickstarts as freshly energized a fall season as any I recall.
toire of Dinah Washington, Gene Ammons, Nat Cole, et al. — by June Yvonne at City LIfe, a bustling joint on distant south 83rd St.; the extra muscle The Masheen & Co. put into covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and Lou Rawls’ “Tobacco Road” at Red Peppers Masquerade Lounge on 87th; the epically high intensity communication Fred Anderson, Kidd Jordan, Muhal, bassists Henry Grimes and Harrison Bankhead and most-valuable-player Drake laid down at the Velvet Lounge; Ira Sullivan’s annual ministrations as jam master at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase (Chris Potter among the sitters-in), the neon-romantic saxes & organ stylings of Sabertooth at the Green Mill, a gig that occurs every Saturday night, midnight to 4 a.m. and was packed with saucy revelers. Like when it was a Capone booze outlet, no?