Chicago Jazz Festival to Showcase Local, International Artists in New Millennium Park Setting
The 35th annual Chicago Jazz Festival will present a variety of local talent and international artists this Labor Day weekend in Millennium Park—a new home base for the festival, which in previous years was centered around the Petrillo Music Shell in nearby Grant Park. The fest begins Thursday, Aug. 29, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 1. All performances are free to the public.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette and his Special Legends Edition Chicago featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell and Larry Gray will headline Aug. 29 on the festival’s main stage, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The performance, which is being recorded by the ECM label for a future release, is a one-time-only concert that will revisit Chicago’s avant-garde scene of the 1960s.
Chicago saxophonist Geof Bradfield will kick off the Pritzker stage lineup on Aug. 30 with Melba!, his tribute to jazz arranger and trombonist Melba Liston. Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet and Pacifica Red Coral with video artist Jesse Gilbert will perform Ten Freedom Summers, a multimedia work inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. Saxophonist Charles Lloyd and Friends, with special guest Bill Frisell, will close out the evening.
Main stage activities on Aug. 31 will begin with the Stafford James String and Percussion Ensemble featuring M’BOOM, a project honoring the work of drummer Max Roach. Vocalist Gregory Porter—who topped two Rising Star categories in the 2013 DownBeat Critics Poll—will also perform that night, followed by alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa leading his group Gamak. Pianist Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party will close the evening with a joyful tribute to a historic jazz icon.
The final evening, Sept. 1, will begin with saxophonist Jimmy Heath’s quartet, followed by percussionist Hamid Drake’s Bindu group. Hip-hop-inspired pianist Robert Glasper and his trio will make its first appearance at the festival later that night. In a celebratory ending to the festival, saxophonist Donald Harrison will perform with his Mardi Gras Indian Congo Square Nation band, which includes Harrison’s quartet plus four members of his Congo Square tribe and Chicago pianist Willie Pickens.
Other Chicago Jazz Festival venues include the Chicago Cultural Center, the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion, the Von Freeman Pavilion, Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall and the Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions stage. For more information, including the complete festival lineup, click here.