Local jazzman Mike Reed is one of four curators of this year’s Umbrella Music Festival.
Far removed from Chicago’s swamped (and swampy) summer music schedule, the Umbrella Music Festival is a wonderfully laid-back autumn reminder that you don’t need the scorching heat, the omnipresent potpourri of perspiration and sunscreen, and the dicey sound and miserable sightlines of summer to stage a solid multi-day fest. However, the jazz itself in anything but laid back. With a wide-ranging artist roster that features the firmament of Chicago’s bustling improvisational scene plus a who’s who of out-of-town and out-of-country guests, Umbrella feels just right in November as the type of homegrown event that any music lover should be thankful for. Here are some highlights from the seventh annual jazz and improvised music smorgasbord, which runs 11/7–11.
European Jazz Meets Chicago
Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (free)
Forget the NATO summit, nothing showcases Chicago’s global reach better than this transcontinental musical exchange. Plus, no protests! Thursday's show sees the Italian reedist Danielle D’Agaro fronts a quartet staffed by three of our city’s finest – the vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, the bassist Jason Roebke and the drummer Mike Reed.
Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee ($20)
A three-act bill features a solo turn for the veteran free jazz guitarist Joe Morris, followed by a late set from the long-running but seldom-performing Chicago Underground Duo – featuring the cornetist Rob Mazurek and the drummer Chad Taylor in an offshoot of the multi-format avant garde Chicago Underground Collective – as the pair celebrates both its 15th year as a group and its sixth recording together, Age of Energy, released earlier this year.
The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia ($20)
Another tripleheader includes the Boston pianist Pandelis Karayorgis leading a raucous quintet of some of his favorite Chicago collaborators (the saxophonists Keefe Jackson and Dave Rempis, the bassist McBride and the drummer Rosaly), followed by a six-sax lineup called Adolphe’s Ax featuring the up-and-coming Chicago saxophonist Caroline Davis, and finally the New York bass legend William Parker leading the quintet In Order to Survive.
The Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont ($15)
The fest closes with a solo set from the veteran Belgian pianist Fred van Hove, followed by a killer sextet of local favorites (the reedist Ed Wilkerson, the saxophonist Mars Williams, the violinist James Sanders, and the percussionists Ernie Adams and Avreeayl Ra) driven with authority by the bassist Harrison Bankhead.
Photograph: Dave Rentauskas