Battle of the Big Bands Lovers of large-ensemble jazz get a swinging valentine in February when a trio of world-class groups light up the local calendar. But for those who’ve got room in their hearts for only one big-band blowout, we pitted the players in a Chicago versus Chicago versus New York face-off.
|THE BAND||Chicago Jazz Orchestra||The Chicago Jazz Ensemble||Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra|
|GIG VIBE||High School Musical IV (the concert rocks Evanston Township High)||Upscale basement jam on the subterranean Harris Theater stage||Buttoned-down swing in the formal Symphony Center|
|EXPECT||Hammond B-3 favorites from past masters such as Jimmys Smith and
|The Great American Songbook—Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, et al.||Modern arrangements of classic tunes by past greats like Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock|
|WATCH FOR||^ Guest Joey DeFrancesco, a beast on the B-3||^ Silky-smooth featured vocalist Bobbi Wilsyn||^ Saxophonist and ten-year ensemble vet Ted Nash|
|ROMANCE POTENTIAL||Tepid. The CJO specializes in plush arrangements, but these greasy organ standards may be a tough sell for cuddlers.||Sizzling. These tunes constitute the bedrock of romantic songwriting, and the CJE delivers them with heat.||Warm. Marsalis relishes the days when jazz was the music of the clubs and the dance floors filled for big-band boogie.|
Feb 7 at 8. $25. 1600 Dodge Ave, Evanston. chicagojazzorchestra.com
|Feb 20 at 8. $15-$45. 205 E Randolph. chicagojazzensemble.com||Feb 27 at 8. $37-$77. 220 S Michigan. cso.org|
THE VERDICT: Stick with the home team on its home turf, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble at the Harris.
Photography: (DeFrancesco and Wilsyn) Courtesy of the artists, (Nash) Richard Conde