Mary May, DCASE firstname.lastname@example.org 312.744.0576
Matt Merewitz, Jazz Institute of Chicago email@example.com 347.384.2839
A favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition celebrating both the mainstream of the national jazz scene as well as Chicago's unique contributions to the art form, the 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival will be presented Aug. 28-Aug. 31, 2014 in Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington).
This year’s headliners include trumpeter and noted film music composer Terence Blanchard, vibraphonist and jazz education pioneer Gary Burton, Miles Davis alumnus bassist Dave Holland and his all star fusion band Prism featuring three of modern jazz’s leading lights – Craig Taborn, guitarist Kevin Eubanks (formerly of The Tonight Show Band) and drummer Eric Harland, jazz’s most celebrated new straight-ahead singer in years (and rightly so), Cecile McLorin Salvant, Chicago-affiliated bassist Rufus Reid, trumpeter and now elder statesman and noted mentor Tom Harrell leads a new band, Colors of a Dream featuring jazz’s biggest breakout crossover star of the last decade, Esperanza Spalding. Finally, the Sun Ra Arkestra celebrates the centennial of Ra’s “arrival” on planet Earth from Saturn.
Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, the free admission Chicago Jazz Festival will officially open with a Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Chicago composer Ernest Dawkins. The Millennium Park performance of Dawkins' Afro Jazz Opera will also be the final concert in this year's Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series. The Sun Ra Arkestra, celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its founder, a Chicago legend, will close out the Chicago Jazz Festival. This is the prized free-admission event's second year in the glorious setting of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The festivities will mark the 45th anniversary of the Jazz Institute.
Full Festival Schedule
The festival will get underway at noon on Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.), where there will be a full slate of performances in Preston Bradley Hall, the Claudia Cassidy Theater and Randolph Square.
The Chris Foreman Trio, led by a terrific organist in the tradition of Hammond B-3 master Jimmy Smith, will kick off things in Randolph Square, followed by the duo of revered blues and boogie-woogie pianist Erwin Helfer and saxophonist John Brumbach.
At 12:15pm in the Claudia Cassidy Theater, Keefe Jackson's Likely So, a beguiling ensemble of seven reed players, will perform Jackson's alluring compositions. They will be followed by a special 10-member edition of gusty tenor saxophonist David Boykin's Expanse, performing a suite written for Sun Ra.
In Preston Bradley Hall, singer-guitarist Paulinho Garcia, the city's reigning Brazilian music king, will lead a quintet at 12:30pm. Next up is the Judy Roberts/Greg Fishman Duo, a homecoming for the Arizona-based singer-pianist and saxophonist.
As part of the festival's centennial Sun Ra celebration, a panel of Arkestra experts will discuss the cosmic hero's legacy from 4-6pm at Roosevelt University's Ganz Hall (430 S. Michigan Ave.).
"Homage to Nelson Mandela: Ernest Dawkins' Memory in the Center, an Afro Jazz Opera," will be performed at 6:30pm in Millennium Park. Saxophonist Dawkins, longtime leader of the New Horizons Ensemble, will be joined by distinguished players from Chicago, South Africa and London in recognition of the role musicians played in energizing the anti-apartheid movement. At the heart of the work, the phenomenal Chicago singer Dee Alexander will embody the activist spirits of Winnie Mandela, the South African President's first wife, Winnie Mandela, and Graça Machel, his widow – both remarkable women.
On Friday, Aug. 29 at noon at the Von Freeman Pavilion in Millennium Park (South Promenade), the promising local sextet, drummer Xavier Breaker's Coalition, will kick off the action. They'll be followed by the talent-laden Joshua Abrams Quartet, including Jason Adasiewicz, David Boykin and Frank Rosaly; bassist Clark Sommers' enveloping (Ba)SH trio, featuring Geof Bradfield and Dana Hall, and the Russ Johnson Quartet, led by a gifted trumpeter whose addition to the local scene has added immeasurably to it.
Music at the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade) begins at 12:30pm with the the Howard Alden/Andy Brown Quartet, which teams the renowned Sweet and Lowdown guitarist and one of Chicago's finest fret players. They'll be followed by the Paul Mariano Quintet, led by the stylish young crooner; and the Grammy-nominated Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, led by the fine trombonist.
Friday evening's offerings at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion begin with a 5pm set by the George Freeman/Mike Allemana Quartet, featuring the late and lamented Von Freeman's brother, an idiosyncratic player idolized by the younger set for his soul-jazz adventures, and Von's longtime guitarist and music director, a fluid but risk-taking improviser himself.
Next up is Rufus Reid, the much loved bassist-bandleader-composer, who began his career in Chicago after graduating from Northwestern University. He'll lead his star-studded Out Front sextet, including saxophonists Bobby Watson and JD Allen and drummer Winard Harper.
Another Chicago product, piano virtuoso Myra Melford, will perform pieces from a new work, Language of Dreams, with her five-piece band Snowy Egret, including internationally renowned cornetist Ron Miles.
And then trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who is equally admired for his jazz compositions and film scores, will lead a thrilling group including saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke. They'll perform pieces from Blanchard's experimental gem, Magnetic, while also continuing the 2014 celebration of Blue Note Records 75th Anniversary.
Saturday, Aug. 29, performances begin at noon at the Von Freeman Pavilion with the Clif Wallace Quintet, a light-grooving unit including young AACM standout Justin Dillard. Also on tap, the John Campbell Trio, a reunion of one of the city’s all-time favorite piano threesomes, including California-based Campbell, Kelly Sill and Joel Spencer; the John Wojciechowski Quartet, led by a terrific tenor saxophonist from Detroit; and the Corey Wilkes Quartet, featuring the outgoing trumpeter and including Robert Irving III.
Beginning at 12:30pm at the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion, the music will be performed by Laurenzi/Ernst/Green, a new wave trio including saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, bassist and singer Katie Ernst and drummer Andrew Green; the Chicago Underground Duo, the ever-expansive, electronically expressive twosome of cornetist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor; and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, the most influential guitarist of his generation, heading up a topflight quartet including Aaron Parks, Eric Revis and Colin Stranahan.
At the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the great AACM tenor saxophonist Ari Brown will play in support of his excellent recent release, Groove Awakening, beginning at 5pm. He'll lead his longstanding quartet, including his brother Kirk on piano.
Next up is arguably the greatest vibraphonist of not just this era, but several before it, Gary Burton. The four-mallet innovator, who has played with a glittering roster of greats, will lead a new quartet including guitar virtuoso Julian Lage and pianist Vadim Neselovskyi.
Trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Harrell will follow Burton, also with a relatively new band, Colors of a Dream, featuring Grammy-winning bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding.
And if the first three bands don't provide enough excitement for one evening, the great double bassist Dave Holland's new fusion-style band, Prism, will push things over the top. The sonic attack unit features guitarist Kevin Eubanks, former music director of the Tonight Show, keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland.
Sunday, Aug. 31 performances at the Von Freeman Pavilion begin at noon with guitarist Neal Alger's Blue Note Quartet, interpreting classics by artists including Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver and Sonny Clark. Next up is on-the-verge-of stardom Chicago singer Tammy McCann, backed by a quartet including pianist-arranger Laurence Hobgood; the Dennis Luxion-Michael Raynor Quartet, whose skilled leaders will "report" on their 2012 State Department tour of Africa, and trombonist Joel Adams' groove-minded Chicago Yestet, featuring 13 of the Windy City's finest players – seven on horn!
The Tomeka Reid Quartet, led by the brilliant Chicago cellist and featuring New York guitarist Mary Halvorson, will perform at 12:30pm at the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion, followed by Sun Rooms, a miraculous vibraphone trio including Jason Adasiewicz, Nate McBride and Mike Reed, and the Tootie Heath Trio, led by the legendary drummer of Heath Brothers fame, reborn in the copacetic company of pianist Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus and bassist Ben Street.
What is guaranteed to be a memorable final night of music in this year's Chicago Jazz Festival will get off to a stylish start in Millennium Park with the Bobby Broom Trio. A New York native (and Sonny Rollins protégé) Broom has risen into the top ranks of guitarists during his time in Chicago. He's joined by bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Makaya McCraven.
MacArthur Foundation Fellow Miguel Zenón, who is both one of jazz's great alto saxophonists and perhaps its best practicing musicologist, will next lead his cutting quartet. Their set will dip into various historical musical styles of his native Puerto Rico.
Zenon will be followed by the “new voice of Jazz,” Grammy®-nominated, Cécile McLorin Salvant, who performs unique interpretations of little-known and seldomly-recorded jazz and blues compositions. Salvant, who, like last year's CJF sensation, Gregory Porter, has brought a crowd-pleasing magnetism back to jazz. Singing in English, French and Spanish, her repertoire ranges from 19th century folk ballads to jazz standards.
And then come's this year's climactic finale, the Sun Ra Arkestra, which with its chants, glittery outfits, Egyptian dancers and other cosmic trappings is as great a show band as it is a musical unit. But for all its frolics, Sun Ra wrote music for the ages: as beautiful and swinging as it is probing and mysterious. Led by saxophonist Marshall Allen, this special edition of the band will celebrate its return to Chicago with current and past members in what is sure to be a riotous centennial salute.
The free admission Chicago Jazz Festival offers top-notch talent, with a broad diversity of styles and an unmatched cultural experience for Chicago residents and tourists alike. The festival stands out from others largely based on a history of putting its own regional stamp on the artistic proceedings. This is particularly true given the city’s deep roots in the history of jazz from Louis Armstrong to Muhal Richard Abrams to the late Von Freeman and Fred Anderson to today’s stars Ken Vandermark, Dana Hall, Mike Reed, Dave Rempis and many more. The Chicago Jazz Festival takes an annual stock of what makes Chicago such an amazing international destination for jazz year-round.
The Chicago Jazz Festival is presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Jazz Partnership and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The festival is sponsored in part by American Airlines, Aquafina, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, Chicagotribune.com, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Communications Direct, DownBeat Magazine, E&J Gallo Family Vineyards, LaGrou Distribution System, Metra, Pepsi and WGN-Television.
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Media seeking credentials to review or photograph performances at the festival must submit their request in writing on media letterhead to Mary May at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 312.744.8523. Requests must include whether credential is regular press or photo, indicate which date or dates and provide phone and email contacts. Note: Some musical artists require approval and some dictate how many songs may be photographed.
About Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs And Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.
About Jazz Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1969, the not for profit Jazz Institute of Chicago has programmed the Chicago Jazz Festival in partnership with the City of Chicago since the festival began in 1979. The organization’s mission to promote and nurture jazz in Chicago is carried out by providing jazz education for youth and adults, supporting the creation of new work by Chicago jazz musicians; growing the audience for jazz by presenting programs that are free and available for all and fostering a thriving jazz community.
For information regarding Chicago Jazz Festival and media credential requests, please contact:
Mary May // Mary.May@cityofchicago.org // 312.744.0576
For information regarding Chicago Jazz Festival artists and related performances, please contact:
Matt Merewitz // email@example.com // 347.384.2839
Stephen Buono // firstname.lastname@example.org // 267.241.5316