Scene Stealers Late-Night Highlights and Other Memorable Moments of 2005

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Vitello Daily Herald Staff Writer

Milestones and revelations marked the best of the 2005 art and night life scene.

If you failed to make time for jazz, comedy, art or a night on the town this year, take a look at some of the memories you missed and make a resolution to broaden your horizons in 2006.

AACM turns 40: Forty years after Muhal Richard Abrams, Jodie Christian, the late Steve McCall and Phil Cohran founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the Chicago- based collective remains a vanguard for the avant garde.

Dense, challenging and complex, improvised or progressive music has never been an easy sell to the public. But the musicians of the AACM, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, have never wavered in their commitment to the music Jazz Institute of Chicago director Lauren Deutsch calls "spiritually uplifting and intellectually stimulating."

I.O. @@ 25: Plagued by sound problems, I.O. Chicago's (formerly ImprovOlympic) star-studded 25th anniversary celebration proved less than stellar. But a bad show couldn't erase the legacy of the company the late Del Close and Charna Halpern established to advance the art of long-form improvisation.

BWC concludes a sweet decade: The improv troupe Baby Wants Candy, whose members create a musical based on an audience- suggested title, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and earned accolades from the Chicago Improv Festival, which named BWC its ensemble of the year.

Bumblinni Brothers bow out: The Bumblinni Brothers' partly improvised, Marx Brothers-style act incorporated slapstick, sleight of hand, skill tricks and sight gags that appealed to kids as well as adults.

But after five years, the high-flying, back-flipping, fire- juggling duo made up of actor/clowns Paul Kalina and Chuck Stubbings dissolved their professional partnership so that Stubbings could fight fires with the Mount Prospect Fire Department and Kalina could pursue a master's degree.

For their fearless pursuit of laughs, the Bumblinni's earn a hearty hail and farewell.

Art Institute expands American galleries: The Art Institute of Chicago consolidated its own holdings and integrated works from the defunct Terra Museum of American Art to create an expanded collection of American art.

Arranged chronologically, this permanent exhibition -consisting of 23 galleries containing 700 works (one-fifth of the museum's extension collection) of American art from 1700 to 1950 - is both accessible and illuminating. …