The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)
Announce the 37th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival
The festival will take place in Millennium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street), September 3-6, showcasing the very best of jazz music from noon to 9:30pm daily. Additionally, the festival is partnering once again with Pianoforte Foundation for a three-concert series to kick off Festival Week. The five–concert Neighborhood Nights series line-up will be announced shortly. The FREE admission Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by DCASE and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC).
Culminating on Labor Day Weekend, the festival’s programming celebrates both the mainstream of the national jazz scene as well as Chicago’s unique contributions to the art form. The Chicago Jazz Festival has historically made a special point of placing its own distinctly Chicago artistic stamp on the musical proceedings. Fittingly, this year’s resident artists represent an especially unique local flair.
One of the most prolific, idiosyncratic and lasting institutions in 20th century music has been the Association for The Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Founded in 1965, by a collective of artists including Muhal Richard Abrams, the AACM was an outlet for a number of wholly unique musical minds. Fittingly, one of the most notable headliners of the 37th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival is a very special reunion of AACM’s Experimental Band, led by pianist and composer Muhal Richard Abrams–the band that is commonly thought of as one of the first, if not the first, AACM ensembles.
This special lineup will feature Abrams on piano; alto saxophonist, composer and Mills College professor, Roscoe Mitchell; saxophonist, flutist and composer Henry
Threadgill; baritone saxophonist, flutist and composer Wallace McMillan; trumpeter, composer and former California Institute of the Arts professor Wadada Leo Smith; pianist, organist and composer Amina Claudine Myers; trombonist, composer, MacArthur Fellow, AACM historian and Columbia University professor George Lewis; bassist and composer Leonard Jones; drummer, vibraphonist, percussionist and composer Thurman Barker; and drummer and composer Reggie Nicholson. Several of these musicians were integral to the founding of the AACM in 1965.
Yet the Experimental Band will not be the only AACM act at the festival: long-standing AACM members and musical innovators Steve & Iqua Colson will perform one of their first concerts in Chicago since they relocated to NYC, with a band comprised of AACM Chicago musicians.
Ari Brown Quintet at the 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival
Additionally, Douglas Ewart, a constant sonic seeker since his arrival in Chicago in 1965, will bring his unit Inventions, featuring 9 Chicago musicians, featuring Ewart (winds, vocals & percussion), Dee Alexander (vocals), Edward Wilkerson (saxophone), Jeff Parker (guitar), Dushun Mosley (drums) w/ special guest Darius Savage (bass).
Festival organizers will honor the centenary of the late composer and arranger William Thomas ‘Billy’ Strayhorn with new arrangements of his iconic repertoire, made famous predominantly by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, here performed by The Chicago Jazz Orchestra under the direction Jeff Lindberg. Featured guest arrangers interpreting Strayhorn’s music will include Chicagoans Edward Wilkerson, and trombonist, composer Tom Garlling, drummer and composer John Hollenbeck, trumpeter and arranger Steven Bernstein, and Gordon Goodwin. The CJF will also be celebrating the centennial of Billie Holiday: rising star vocalist José James – a Minneapolis native who has been noted for melding R&B, singer-songwriter sensibilities with his core jazz training – will bring his Yesterday I Had the Blues project to the festival, a celebration of Holiday’s music.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and CJF, DCASE and JIC are proud to recognize this civil rights milestone and promote full inclusion of people with disabilities by partnering with ADA 25 Chicago to present New Orleanian pianist Henry Butler with slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9. The debut recording by this frolicking bluesy New Orleans second line band, Viper’s Drag, recently revived the legendary Impulse! Records label, which had been dormant for at least a decade.
This year the Chicago Jazz Festival will bring a wide array of nationally regarded talent: saxophonist Mark Turner, whose most recent album Lathe of Heaven (ECM) was acclaimed as one of the best records of 2014; the Craig Taborn Trio, whose 2013 release Chants (ECM) was met with universal celebration; The Claudia Quintet, drummer/composer John Hollenbeck’s unclassifiable brainchild with a surprise special guest: vocalist Cyrille Aimée, who has charmed international audiences; and saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett with her all-Cuban band Maqueque.
Chicago has produced a host of incredible straight-ahead, and well regarded jazz talent who will be featured at the festival: Guggenheim Fellow pianist Ryan Cohan; saxophonist Chico Freeman (son of Chicago legend, Von Freeman) who will be performing with his uncle, guitarist George Freeman; Chicago-native and 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition winner, trumpeter Marquis Hill; acclaimed Chicago-based drummer and genre-bender Makaya McCraven; revered pianist Willie Pickens with his daughter and protégé Bethany; NYC transplant, pianist Ben Waltzer; and Robert Irving III’s Generations band, which will feature some of Chicago’s youngest and brightest musicians. Accomplished trumpeter and Chicago native Art Hoyle will be paying tribute to one of Jazz’s most universally beloved figures, the recently departed trumpeter Clark Terry.
Finale – Tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson – Chicago Blues Festival 2014
Yet as the AACM evidences, the city of Chicago has also long been a hub for experimentation. That lineage has been extended by many of the city’s avant garde practitioners who will be featured at the festival: bassist Jason Roebke’s Octet (which is flooded with some of Chicago’s most lauded new voices); guitarist Jeff Parker, who for decades was one of Chicago’s most forward looking musicians, before relocating to Los Angeles; and guitarist Andrew Trim’s Hanami Quartet.
Aside from the acclaimed talent, the Chicago Jazz Festival has often been heralded for its inclusion of emerging Chicago musicians, giving them broader exposure than they would otherwise have. Some of these include rising star saxophonist Rajiv Halim, trumpeter James Davis and his group Beveled, drummer Jeremy Cunningham, Brazilian singer Neusa Sauer and legendary pianist Bob Dogan.
For the latest information on the Chicago Jazz Festival, visit www.chicagojazzfestival.us, like us on Facebook at Chicago Jazz Festival and follow us on Twitter (@ChicagoDCASE, @ChiJazzFest, #ChiJazzFest).
FestPop Editorial Team