From mainstream to avant-garde, a buoyant weekend in Chicago jazz

Howard Reich

Every weekend in Chicago jazz offers more possibilities than a single pair of ears could get to. This time around, the attractions are as rich as they are varied. Among the most promising:

Dana Hall’s spring: A powerhouse drummer who thrives in many settings, Hall these days may be best known to the listening public for leading his Black Fire ensemble Monday nights at Andy’s Jazz Club. But Hall, who’s director of jazz studies at DePaul University, has nurtured various identities over the years, including a stint as artistic director of the now-defunct Chicago Jazz Ensemble. When that group was winding down its decadeslong tenure at Columbia College Chicago a few years ago, Hall turned his attention back to one of his small ensembles, “spring” (informally inspired by Tony Williams’ 1965 Blue Note album of the same name). “I had been listening to a lot of classical music, listening to a lot composers that in the late 1950s and through the 1960s were trying to find ways of marrying composition and improvisation,” Hall told me in 2013. “I thought this might be an interesting way of having a conversation with musicians who are friends of mine.” On this occasion, those friends will be longtime spring members Geof Bradfield and John Wojciechowski on reeds, with estimable bassist Rodney Whitaker sitting in for Clark Sommers. 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $15; 773-878-5552 or

Vent Fort: For the past three years, musicians from France and the United States — with a large contingent from Chicago — have collaborated in concerts on both sides of the Atlantic under the auspices of an ambitious project aptly titled The Bridge. The cross-cultural campaign continues this weekend as Vent Fort plays a prime arena for Bridge events, Constellation. The ensemble features vocalist Khari B., flutist-vocalist Magic Malik, saxophonist Guillaume Orti, bassist Frederic Bargeon Briet and drummer-trombonist Tyshawn Sorey. 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.;