The Sketch

Arts, Briefly

By James Mackenzie

Jazz Concert  for Black History Month

You know that a musical style has fallen from the heights it once held when its most culturally relevant moment of 2014 was J.K. Simmons throwing a chair at Miles Teller on the way to a likely Oscar win.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Tomorrow, International House is hosting its sixth annual black history month celebration of jazz. This concert will feature the talents of the Ari Brown Quintet, led by (you’ll never guess) tenor saxophonist Ari Brown. Brown, who is also a pianist and composer, is a Chicago-based artist but has trekked all over the globe to show off his craft. Such far-flung locales as Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore have all hosted his performances. In Chicago itself, Brown has played on the biggest of stages for years. He once played as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Chicago debut of Anthony Davis’s opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X. This event is cosponsored by the International House Global Voices 59th Street Jazz Series and WHPK Jazz Format.

Saturday, February 21, International House, Assembly Hall, $10 general admission, $8 with student ID

COUP’s Mardi Gras

Typically, days like Christmas and Easter are cited as the religious holidays most warped by commercialism over the years. And that is a fair assessment. These two holidays feature strange and fantastical icons totally alien to Christianity and have been moved in the calendar (in Christmas’s case significantly) to accommodate pre-existing pagan cultural practices. But Mardi Gras does not get its due when it comes to religious festivals with the religion essentially stripped out. Based on the loosest possible of Christian cultural traditions, the last holiday before the self-denying days of Lent is really just an excuse for hedonism of the highest possible order. The day itself was this past Tuesday, but seeing as we’ve already established that its calendar placement and very existence are both completely arbitrary, there’s no reason why the part can’t go on. Thanks to the Council on University Programming, the party thankfully does go on tonight at Ida Noyes. From 9 p.m. to midnight there will be a Mardi Gras party fit for New Orleans. The event will feature the musical talents of The Granddaddy’s earlier in the evening and Dirt Red Brass Band from 10 p.m. to midnight. There will also be caricaturists, face painters, street signs, a photo booth, balloonists, and plenty of free food and drink for University students—enough drink, apparently, that they will be asking for two IDs (your UCID counts as one). So if you’re 21 and over, or have a really good fake, Mardi Gras will be continuing well after Ash Wednesday.

Friday, February 20, Ida Noyes, Free

They Don’t Give a Damn

Documentary filmmakers Kenny Young and Jeffrey T. Brown will be coming to the Logan Arts Center to show their recent documentary They Don’t Give a Damn this afternoon. The film, which focuses on the Chicago housing projects during the ’90s, includes the testimonies of many residents of the Chicago projects. In 1999, Chicago started a program called the Plan for Transformation to rehabilitate and build new public housing for the city. However, many of these public housing options were never rebuilt or were instead replaced by upscale condos outside of the price range of the original tenants. While the projects focused on in the film have been gone for over a decade, the people displaced during the program still have passionate opinions about the Plan for Transformation and the demolition of their communities. A screening of the film will be followed by a discussion with the directors.

Friday, February 20, Logan Center 201, Free

UChicago Presents: Avi Avital and David Greilsammer

This Friday you can listen to this beautiful and exciting music and—the really exciting part—mingle with the world-class musicians afterwards at a students-only pizza party. Avi Avital, a young (and handsome) Israeli mandolin player, will be making his Chicago debut alongside pianist David Greilsammer in an exciting program from UChicago Presents. Avital has been recognized by The New York Times for his “exquisitely sensitive playing” and “stunning agility,” making him a favorite in musical circles despite being a relative newcomer. He’s not alone in his celebrity, though. Both Avital and Greilsammer have collected rave reviews, and together they have an energy that translates into their music. The show will feature everything from classics like Mozart and Bach to more unique pieces like Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances. The show will be preceded by a talk with music professor Lawrence Zbikowski at 6:30 p.m.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Friday, February 20, Logan Center, Performance Hall, 7:30 p.m., $5 for students