The Music Institute of Chicago presents A Tribute to Les Paul Saturday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. The performance also will be available via livestream.
Sponsored by the Les Paul Foundation, this performance features guitarist Russell Malone and vocal soloist and Music Institute Artist-in-Residence Tammy McCann, along with Tom Vaitsas on piano, Eric Hochberg on bass, and Sam Jewel on drums.
The night’s festivities include a pre-concert talk by Les Paul Foundation Program Director Sue Baker, who will share stories of Paul’s life, inventions, music, and time living in Chicago, as well as an exhibit of articles, photos, and music documenting the life of the legendary artist. The Music Institute also is planning educational programming in support of this special event.
Les Paul’s impact on countless artists, from Paul McCartney, Eddie Van Halen, and Slash to Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, and Chet Atkins, speaks to his status as a music legend whose virtuosic playing extended across all genres, including jazz, country, R&B, and rock. His breakthrough recording, “Lover” (1948), showcased a number of his studio innovations, which led to hits with his wife Mary Ford, including “How High the Moon” and 16 Top Ten songs between 1950 and 1954. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Paul had a highly successful performance and television career with Mary Ford. After a lifetime of recordings, his final, multi-Grammy Award-winning album, American Made, World Played, in 2005 featured Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Sting, and Eric Clapton.
Russell Malone is one of the signature guitar players of his generation. The leader of 10 albums since 1992, Malone is as well-known on the international circuit for helming a world-class quartet and trio as for his long-standing participation in Ron Carter's Golden Striker Trio and his recent consequential contribution to the musical production of the likes of Sonny Rollins and Dianne Reeves. A master of all tempos, a relentless swinger, he spins his stories—in idioms including the urban and downhome blues, country, gospel, various corners of the American Songbook, and hardcore jazz—with a soulful, instantly recognizable instrumental voice.
Tammy McCann is an internationally recognized jazz vocalist whose powerful, sultry, and soulful voice paints pictures and tells stories by merging classical vocal technique and gospel aesthetic with jazz to create a sound that is completely her own. Named “Best Jazz Vocal Performance” by the Chicago Tribune, arts critic Howard Reich said of McCann, “a voice that soars in all registers, at all tempos, on all occasions...a voice that inspires wonder!” McCann has performed with Ramsey Lewis, Willie Pickens, and Von Freeman and toured as a “Raelette” with the great Ray Charles. She has thrilled audiences at some of the nation’s premier jazz venues, including Birdland, the Blue Note, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, and Chicago’s own Jazz Showcase.
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