Harrison Bankhead Quartet

Harrison Bankhead

MAR 28, 8PM

Bezanson Recital Hall

General Admission: $12; $7 students

Harrison Bankhead Quartet: Edward Wilkerson, Jr. and Mars Williams, reeds, and Avreeayl Ra, drums.

The Chicago jazz bassist Harrison Bankhead combines an appreciation for musical challenges, with a journeyman's ability to fit in an array of styles from straight-ahead to free jazz, flamenco to classical, gospel to soul. Although heard as a sideman on countless recordings, the Waukegan, Illinois native released his first record under his own name in 2011, Morning Sun Moon Harvest (Engine), featuring Wilkerson, Williams and Ra.

"Harrison Bankhead has been about as ubiquitous on the local scene as a jazz musician can be,” writes Peter Margasak. “Over the past couple decades he's amassed a discography that includes dozens of credits, backing countless Chicago heavies—Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Malachi Thompson—and serving as a key member in groups like 8 Bold Souls, Indigo Trio, Frequency, and Witches & Devils. He's the kind of selfless musician who makes just about everyone he plays with sound better."

"Bankhead's playing is firmly rooted in a Chicago bass lineage that stretches back to Milt Hinton and includes Wilbur Ware and Malachi Favors,” writes Neil Tesser. “The dry warmth of both his tone and his melodies has proved welcome, even comforting, in the many contexts in which he's performed."

A composer, arranger, musician and educator, Ed Wilkerson, Jr. is one of Chicago's finest living saxophonists. Leader of the cutting-edge octet 8 Bold Souls (a swinging, inventive ensemble which has been around since the early '80s) and the 25-member performance ensemble Shadow Vignettes, he has also been a member of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and a past president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM).

Master percussionist Avreeayl Ra is “an indispensable innovator,” writes the Chicago Tribune. “He shapes the music-making swirling around him with remarkable precision and poise.” A long-term member of the AACM, Ra had early studies with organization co-founder Philip Cohran, and has since worked with Amiri Baraka, Fontella Bass, Lester Bowie, Oscar Brown, Jr., Sun Ra, and many more.
Mars Williams is a veteran musician, orchestrator and arranger who spent a good part of the 1980s as a member of The Psychedelic Furs, and has also worked with Billy Idol, Massacre and Ministry. He has toured with the Peter Brötzmann Tentet, the Vandermark 5 and Hal Russell's NRG Ensemble.