The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, November 9 through November 15, 2016

1 Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

Jazz:The monstrous jazz ensemble performs Americana, a program honoring America’s musical roots which includes a premiere by trumpeter Orbert Davis, a toast to ragtime by pianist Reginald Robinson, and a suite honoring war vets.
11/11 at 7:30 p.m. $29–$68. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress.

2 The Fundamentals

Theater:In Erika Sheffer’s new play, Steppenwolf ensemble member Alana Arenas plays Millie, a hotel housekeeper balancing reality—including motherhood and a shot at a management gig—with her own goals.
11/10–12/23. $50–$86. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted.

3 The 1975

Rock:On their latest album, English dance-rockers the 1975 broke from their indie-rock roots to experiment with genres as disparate as R&B, ambient, synth-pop, and jazz. Whatever frontman Matt Healy is trying seems to be working: The record hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 earlier this year, and a legion of superfans continues to pore over details as specific as color palettes on the band’s album covers.
11/13–14 at 7 p.m. $45. Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence.

4 Khecari

Dance:Khecari’s long-form improvisational piece The Retreat encourages audiences to cast off the daily grind and embrace dance. One performance option even takes the form of a sleepover, providing nap nests, dinner, and morning coffee. For the homebodies, an abridged version lets out at evening’s end.
11/10 and 19 at 8 p.m. $10–$270. Indian Boundary Culture Center, 2500 W. Lunt.

5 Pop-Up Magazine

Lectures:If the moniker “live magazine” sounds a little wishy-washy, allow us to clarify: Pop-Up Magazine is a highbrow variety hour chock-full of high-profile guests who will speak and perform before a dramatically animated backdrop. The Chicago show features music writer Jessica Hopper, journalist Alex Kotlowitz, and This American Life producer Stephanie Foo.
11/12 at 7:30 p.m. $30–$50. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Orbert Davis
Orbert Davis Photo: Louis Byrd

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Orbert Davis, the co-founder, artistic director, and conductor of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, which presents Americana this Friday, November 11.

“The theme of this Friday’s concert feels eerily fitting. I find that art not only reflects life—it also heals life. I think this music will be a representation of what it truly means to be an American, by focusing not on those things that separate us, but on what brings us together. This piece was originally on black migration, but it ended up taking a different turn. Now it’s sort of an examination of that story through the aesthetic of a river—the Mississippi, specifically. The four movements follow the river from its source in the lands of the Ojibwe Native Americans to New Orleans, but a recurring theme is the way in which various rivers and tributaries come together to form something greater. My goal as a composer is to create a soundtrack, if you will: I want the audience to find themselves immersed in these themes and, hopefully, for them to walk away feeling better and more hopeful. We have to accept where we are, but we also have to challenge our leaders to be better.

“When I compose, I tend to really immerse myself in the music. I just spent a month composing for the Chicago Jazz Festival, and after Americana I’m ready to turn the music off for a little while. When I’m feeling less burned out, I love to see shows at the Auditorium Theatre, where the Jazz Philharmonic performs on Friday. It’s an amazing place to perform, and an equally great place to hear live music. I also frequent Jazz Showcase—especially for Sunday matinees with my kids. I think it’s important to expose them to music, and not just stuff composed by me.

“While I’m taking it easy, we’ll probably go to Flap-Jacks on West 95th for a family breakfast. It’s a really nice, classic pancake house just west of our home in Beverly. I’m hanging out with my kids in the afternoon—we’ll probably just be around the house, maybe putting away our patio furniture. For dinner Saturday, I’m taking my wife out to our favorite restaurant, Chuck’s Southern Comfort Café on 79th. They’ve got the best barbecue in town, though if you’re picky about sauce you might want to bring your own—the meat is front and center and they tend to go light on the sauce. Sunday, I’ll probably just go for a walk around my neighborhood. It’s extremely restful, for me: Beverly is the kind of place where you don’t pass someone on the street without stopping to chat.” —As told to John Hardberger

Freebie of the Week

Chicago Book Expo

Literature:This classic book fair, sponsored by Columbia College’s creative writing department, hosts a plethora of independent presses and authors. Expect readings from accomplished locals, as well as programs and workshops offering a leg up to aspiring writers.
11/13 at noon. Free. Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash.