Since 2018, the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective has been making waves around town resurrecting the sleek grooves of the postbop era, which began in the late 1950s. Nationally, the sound has been shaped by artists like the Jazz Crusaders, Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Smith. , and in Chicago, the Rush Street club scene was at its peak. On previous records, the sextet has invited collaborators such as New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton and vocalist Raul Midón, but these were small steps from what the band did for their recent third. album, On the way to be free (JMarq)—Chicago jazz powerhouse Dee Alexander is the collective’s full-time vocalist. Tenor saxophonist John Fournier has penned original songs that place Alexander in the postbop era without feeling like historical exercises. “The Man Is Coming Back,” a seductive mood piece, imagines an insurrection (“Get out your pitchfork / Get out of the barn / Light the torches / Sound the alarm”) that comes to life during the hard-funk break of the song. These songs have space and light, and the title cut showcases the band’s earthy dynamic. “Mom, are we there? features a gang vocal drive atop a snappy syncopated groove and guitarist Larry Brown Jr.’s springy solo. , layered over a breezy solo by Brown and trumpeter Marques Carroll — showcases Alexander’s versatility and strengths. Judging from its title, the instrumental “Behind the Crusaders” is presumably an homage to the Jazz Crusaders, a multi-faceted group that in the 1960s and 1970s erased all manner of genre boundaries. Sure enough, the song follows in those footsteps – its melodic power and elegant group dynamics are what make the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective a portal of choice for listeners who don’t limit their music by category but are simply driven by groove. Following this appearance at FitzGerald’s American Music Festival, the band will perform at Jazz Showcase on August 24th.
Chicago Soul Jazz Collective with Dee Alexander As part of the second day of the American Music Festival, which runs from Friday 7/1 to Monday 7/4. The Rebirth Brass Band headline the outdoor main stage; Nelson Street Revival closes nightclub scene inside FitzGerald’s; the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective with Dee Alexander is the headliner of the Sidebar scene. Other artists of the day are Marshall Crenshaw, Michael McDermott, Daddy Long Legs, Lilly Hiatt, Chicago Farmer & the Fieldnotes, Eilen Jewell, Tre Burt, Fox Crossing Stringband, Sarah Borges, Jonah Tolchin, the Claudettes, Los Gallos, the Joel Paterson Band, Terry White and the Loaded Dice and Donna Herula. Sat 7/2, 9:30 p.m. (music starts at 1 p.m.), Sidebar Stage, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, $50 per day, all ages