By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
The Chicago Jazz Orchestra (CJO), under the direction of artistic director Jeff Lindberg, returns to the Studebaker Theater with “Sophisticated Giant”: A Tribute to Dexter Gordon, with special guest Joshua Redman, Sunday, March 25, 2018, at 3 p.m. The Studebaker is located at 410 S. Michigan Ave. on the first floor of Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building. Single tickets are $35 (balcony) and $45 (floor). For tickets and information, visit http://www.chicagojazzorchestra.org.
Chicago Jazz Orchestra’s next tribute concert marks the live world premiere of “Sophisticated Giant,” the legendary 1977 recording by the late great tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon. The concert will see the debut of CJO’s Jeff Lindberg’s original transcriptions of Gordon’s landmark 1977 album, played in order and in its entirety.
Slide Hampton, the 85-year-old NEA Jazz Master who arranged and performed on Gordon’s original album, personally consulted with Lindberg on his new transcriptions of “Sophisticated Giant.” Hampton will be in the house on March 25th to witness the celebrated album’s reincarnation as a live world premiere concert. The evening’s program also includes several prized Slide Hampton Octets, featuring original music provided by Hampton.
The beautiful Art Deco, acoustically clean Studebaker Theater is the ideal seating for the charismatic Redman to remind Chicago why he is such an internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist.
In a January 2017 interview in Downbeat Magazine Redman previewed his collaboration with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, noting “While learning the material is an immense undertaking, listening to Dexter Gordon is never homework. I have learned so much, not just about saxophone playing, but the basic building blocks and idioms of jazz improvisation from studying Dexter Gordon’s music.”
Redman will be accompanied by a 12-piece CJO ensemble boasting jazz musicians with the top chops in all of Chicago, including Scott Burns (alto and tenor saxophones), Bill Overton (baritone saxophone), Kimberly Risinger (flute and piccolo), Victor Garcia and Pharez Whitted (trumpets and flugelhorn), Steve Duncan and Tom Garling (trombones), Dan Anderson (tuba), John Campbell (vibes), Dan Trudell (piano), Dennis Carroll (bass) and George Fludas (drums).
Founded in 1978, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra is the city’s oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country. As recently as 2015, Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune cited the CJO as “one of the best big bands in the country.”