Does a jazz show exist that could fill the State Fair Grandstand? In June, some 50,000 jazz fans turned out to see Kenny G perform on the final night of the Syracuse Jazz Festival in Syracuse, N.Y. A lot of people wouldn’t call his music jazz, but a lot of other people do, and plenty more don’t call it anything in particular — they just like it.
With a draw like that, no wonder Kenny G is the only jazz act to have been featured at the Grandstand in 16 years, and that was back in 1994. (Today the Grandstand seats 17,000, chump change for the G-man.) Maybe our Great Get-Together will bring him back one day. Maybe some area jazz musicians could open for him.
Meanwhile, the closest we’ll get to jazz at the fair this weekend is Blood, Sweat and Tears. The great horn band plays tonight and Saturday at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Forty years ago, they were the jazziest act at Woodstock. (They weren’t in the movie or on the soundtrack but they were at Yasgur’s farm.) It’s actually pretty amazing to see BS&T for free (with admission to the fair). The music starts at 8:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Spinning wheel, spin around.
More jazz this weekend and into the week:
Jon Pemberton Tribute to Lee Morgan. Trumpeter Edward Lee Morgan had a meteoric rise and tragic fall. In 1956, at age 18, he was playing with Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1961, by then a heroin addict, he lost several teeth to a beating by drug dealers. Two years later, he recorded “The Sidewinder” for Blue Note, which became a crossover sensation. (The title track remains one of those tunes you probably know even if you don’t know jazz.) In 1972, at age 33, Morgan was shot and killed by his common-law wife during a club performance in New York City. He left more than 60 recordings, giving Pemberton and his quintet much to choose from this weekend. Trumpeter, pianist, composer, and teacher Pemberton has played with the ska band SKATET and the free jazz orchestra IMP ORK. With Jim Marentic in saxophone, Chris Lomheim on piano, Kenny Horst on drums and a different bass player each night: Adam Linz on Friday, Gary Raynor on Saturday. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 4 and 5, 9 p.m., Artists’ Quarter ($10).
Corea, Clarke & White. That distant rumbling you hear is the sound of a Really Big Show rolling into town. Last summer, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White played the sold-out Orpheum as three-quarters of the fusion supergroup Return to Forever. They’re back out under their own names on a world tour that launched Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl. Expect straight-ahead jazz, fusion, and the thrill of seeing a bona fide supergroup in a small room. Tickets are pricey (and almost gone) but if you can swing it, you’ll thank yourself later. Meanwhile, you can follow Chick’s tweets on Twitter. Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 7 and 8, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Dakota ($25-$110).
Arts Midwest Showcase: Tierney Sutton, Gretchen Parlato, Sachal Vasandani. Some jazz fans are all about the singers, and for them this show will be heaven on a stick (pardon the State Fair reference). A Dakota favorite, Tierney Sutton has perfect pitch, tremendous expression and a telepathic band. Up-and-comer Gretchen Parlato won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2004 and has since recorded with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard and Esperanza Spalding. Sachal Vasandani is that relative rarity, a male jazz singer, made even more singular by weaving in Indian music and pop. All three are in town for the Arts Midwest conference. Thursday, Sept. 10, 7 p.m., Dakota ($30).