Chicago used to be a great town for jazz. Politics and policy in Chicago chased great music out to the suburbs and odd enforcements and ordinances all but closed jazz venues for the sake of revenues and cash cows.
Great talents at the top of their game saw the departure of people like Jim "Skinny" Sheahan from the Mayor's Office of Special Events, and replaced by a cultural czarina who turned Chicago's stages from likes of Judy Roberts, Rich Daniels, Victor Parra and Mark Madsen to whirling Turkish Dance troupes wearing what looked like giant chefs hats and Ethiopian thumb pianists accompanied by gourd beaters. Jazz Venues closed quicker than a politician lies and hotels became the sole harbors for what passes for jazz.
Chicago Jazz musicians now scratch out some dollars in a town that once provided a living.
Last night at the Chambers in Niles, one such suburban jazz haven, featured not only the fabulous jazz guitarist/vocalist Frank D'Rone, but also a few of Chicago's best jazz artists Bassist John Bany, drummer Charles Braugham.and pianist/accordionist Don Stille. Frank D'Rone shared his show with his fellow artists for the second half of his show he and D'rone and the Chambers trio were joined by a brilliant flute master, a trumpeter and a harmonica rendition of Ruby.
Frank D'Rone is a gracious master of his art.
Vocalist the lovely Miss Terry Sullivan wowed the crowd with Lover Man. In an up-tempo trading of fours with the trio and featuring the great Frank D'Rone on guitar with masterful chops that eased back to Terry Sullivan.
The great Mark Madsen owned the house with a rendition of I'll Remember April. The poignancy of the loss of jazz due to decades of political booster cronyism in Chicago was reflected in Mark Madsen' phrasing and textured baritone that raised the spirit of Joe Williams himself. This one performance in a night of great presentations was like finding a diamond in a pile of gold coins.
Here is Mark Madsen with Rich Daniels and the Chicago City Lights orchestra performing for the McDonald's McVeterans Fund in 2008.
We lost much more than parking meters. Chicago sold our musical souls these last few decades.
This lovely day will lengthen into evening, we'll sigh goodbye to all we ever had.
Alone where we have walked together, I'll remember April and be glad.
I'll be content you loved me once in April.
Your lips were warm and love and spring were new.
I'm not afraid of autumn and her sorrow, for I'll remember April and you.
The fire will dwindle into glowing ashes, for flames live such a little while.
I won't forget but I won't be lonely, I'll remember April and smile.
Chicago Jazz is in the suburbs. Get to the Chambers in Niles.
6881 N. Milwaukee, Niles, IL 60714. 847-647-8282.