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JVC Jazz Festival Chicago Presents A Tribute To Saxophonist Art Porter
Alto saxophonist/composer Art Porter graced this bitter earth for a too-brief 34 years. His musical/cultural legacy is quiet fire deep. Born August 3, 1962 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Art was studying at Berklee and a member of Art Porter Sr.ís popular jazz combo at the age of 16. Ironically, Art wasnít allowed to perform in local venues until Bill Clinton intervened. Then Arkansasís Attorney General, Clinton researched and paved the way for passage of the Art Porter Bill (underage musicians can perform in clubs and bars if a legal guardian is present). While pursuing a degree in music education at Northeastern Illinois University, Art was also making a little noise in Chicagoís jazz scene.
By the time Verve Forecast came-a-calliní in Ď91, Art was Mr. Chi-Town, star of the longest-running SRO jazz gig in town. Well-schooled in all things bop, avant and soul jazz, blessed with an intuitive, funky flow and a pungently sweet/sour tone, Art was more than ready for the world of contemporary jazz. Ahead of the curve, APís four Verve Forecast releases (Pocket City, Straight To The Point, Undercover, Lay Your Hands On Me, For Artís Sake) helped define and shape much of todayís smooth jazz sounds. His final recording was "Dindi" a duet with El Debarge on the Lee Ritenour production, A Twist of Jobim (1997).
While Art Porterís albums remain are mad fresh, his greatest moments were onstage. Pure sound and vision overload: the band more than knee deep in the loosey-goosey-my-sweet-Lucy zone, Art dapper in vest and wide-legged pants, stalking-gyrating-strolling across the stage, serendipitously dropping Jr. Walkeresque gutbucket riffage and EWF-smoovey melodics here, tossing out wiggy, phat abstracts of Bird-Trane-Maceo there. OE98ís posthumous live compilation For Artís Sake is all that and a bag oíchips.
When Art Porter drowned in a Thailand boating accident on November 23rd, 1996 (boating accident, Thailand), he was on the verge of a career breakthrough (Patti LaBelle national tour). More importantly, Art left behind a young family (wife Barbie, sons Art III and Arrington). In January of this year, tragedy revisited the family -Barbie Porter passed away. Darkest of days. Then friend/fan/music journalist and former WNUA-FM DJ Mark Ruffin stepped to the mic. "All I could think about was my three boys," muses Ruffin. "I remember thinking that if something happened to me, and then a few years later, something happened to their mother, I would hope a friend of mine would do something for me. That was my inspiration for doing something for my friend Art Porter. I couldnít get his kids out of my mind."
When the going gets tuff, the tuff goes shopping. Wish List: Park West (venue); sponsors: JVC Jazz Festival, Verve, American Airlines, Fairmont Hotel, Jazziz; all-star band (Gerey Johnson, guitar; Michael Manson, bass; Kevin Randolph, keyboards; Kahari Parker, drums) and heavy guests (Brenda Russell, Jeff Lorber, Kirk Whalum, Marion Meadows, Paul Jackson Jr., Peter White, Jodie Christian and some surprise special guests we canít mention); BET on Jazz, WNUA-FM, WTTW-TV, Porter brothers trust fund structure. Score: 100%.
On Saturday night, July 21st, JVC Jazz Festival will present the For Artís Kids Sake Benefit Concert at Chicagoís fabled Park West. All of the above plus Artís mother Mrs. Pauline Porter will be in the house. Itís gonna be a beautiful night. (Net proceeds will be deposited in an educational/medical trust fund for Art Porter III and Arrington Porter).
WHO: Brenda Russell, Jeff Lorber, Kirk Whalum, Marion Meadows, Paul Jackson, Jr., Peter White, Jodie Christian and surprise special guests
WHAT: For Artís Sake Benefit
(Benefit Concert for the sons of Art and Barbie Porter)
WHERE: Park West
322 West Armitage
WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 2001
Showtimes: 7PM & 10PM
The Verve Music Group - 212.331.2047