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Jazz: Was and Is

By Rob Christopher on Jun 9, 2008 2:53PM

2008_6jazzwasis.jpg There is arguably no genre of music littered with more forgotten figures than jazz. When it comes to pop and rock, every neglected album is just a Pitchfork blurb away from reappraisal and appreciation. But in the world of jazz, for every undervalued legend like Jimmy Scott whose work is rediscovered, there are dozens still consigned to near invisibility. Such a singer is Jackie Paris. He toured with Charlie Parker, performed with Lionel Hampton and Charlie Mingus, and even opened for Lenny Bruce. But an erratic recording career and the proverbial string of bad personal choices have ensured his status as a little-known cult figure. 'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris, a new documentary playing in a week-long run at the Siskel, traces the life of the troubled song stylist. Interviewees include Billy Taylor, George Wein, Mark Murphy, and Ruth Price. Incidentally, thanks to the magic of iTunes, several of his albums are now back in print. A casual listen brings to mind Johnny Mathis with a smidge of Jon Hendricks' tone.

Happily, Ken Vandermark has not been striken with such obscurity. In fact the man is constantly touring, recording, performing, and giving interesting interviews (check out the newest issue of Stop Smiling). We've made no secret of our admiration for his aesthetic and stamina, so we're pleased to plug him once again as he helps to celebrate the DVD release of Musician, the fly-on-the-wall documentary about him by Daniel Kraus which the New York Times described as "radically fresh." The event is this Wednesday at the Hideout. There'll be two sets by Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums and percussion), both of which will be recorded for possible release. With the multi-reedist turned loose with nary an anchor except a drummer, the result promises to be a perfect way to inject a jolt into the middle of your week.

Charlie Parker & Jackie Paris via Outside Pictures