Jeb Bishop at the Green Mill | Concert preview
A flurry of guests help the jazz trombonist celebrate his 50th birthday.
Trombonist Jeb Bishop has been a linchpin of the local experimental scene since the early ’90s when he was colliding jazz and punk as a member of the Flying Luttenbachers. Since then he’s lent his lyricism and clarity of tone to any number of ad-hoc outfits and working groups, so it’d be an understatement to say Bishop’s absence has been felt since he relocated to his native North Carolina earlier this year. For a subtle reminder, see Jim Newberry’s photo exhibit at Elastic, where a portrait of Bishop hangs alongside those of the many peers with whom he’s shared the stage over the last two decades.
He’ll enjoy that artistic camaraderie again this weekend at a two-night stand celebrating his 50th birthday, featuring three sets per evening that showcase the brassman’s range and omnivorous musical appetite. Each night begins with Bishop’s own trio, expanded into a quartet with the addition of guitarist Jeff Parker, followed by the Engines, which capture the trombone pro’s combustible frontline interplay with saxist Dave Rempis.
The biggest question mark is the late set, anchored by Parker, bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer Hamid Drake, an instigator whose hometown appearances are as rare as Bishop’s. Friday finds the group unpacking tunes off Drake’s Reggaeology album with the help of another trombonist, Jeff Albert, while Saturday welcomes reed warrior Ken Vandermark (whose Vandermark 5 Bishop was a flagship member of) and fearless improviser Joe McPhee for a dip into Don Cherry’s songbook. Bishop has his work cut out for him, but a tireless avant-bop soldier like him shouldn’t have any problem blowing out all those candles.