It’s natural, the way artistic influences are passed down, that saxophonists mainly pay tribute to other saxophonists, trumpeter to other trumpeters, drummers to other drummers. But it’s refreshing when a musician is instrument-blind in honoring the overall scope of a predecessor’s achievement. That’s what pianist Jeremy Kahn has been doing in performing and recording the music of Pepper Adams, who gained recognition as one of jazz’s leading baritone saxophonists through his work with Charles Mingus and Donald Byrd, but whose compositions have largely faded from view since his death in 1986.
Kahn has now cut three albums as part of a project to record all of Adams’ music. On the latest one, he takes Adams ballads such as “In Love with Night” and “Urban Dreams,” set them to lyrics and treats them as medium and uptempo vehicles for New York singer Alexis Cole. Today, festgoers will be treated to a selection of those tunes, performed by a strong lineup including Cole, veteran saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, saxophonist Geof Bradfield, bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer George Fludas.
A Chicago native who spent formative years performing in bars and lounges in New York and Boston before moving back home and settling into a memorable stint at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, Kahn is a wide-ranging artist whose past recordings have included a memorable take on The Threepenny Opera. He can evoke Bill Evans with his post bop lyricism, embrace the more complicated modernism of Wayne Shorter and go pre-modern with a Bix Beiderbecke tune. Pepper Adams would be pleased to have his music in Kahn’s hands.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
Jazz on Jackson Stage