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The 40th annual Chicago Jazz Fest announces Millenium Park lineup!

April 18th, 2018

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to announce the 40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival will be hosted from August 24–September 2 in Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) and at venues throughout the city. Among many featured headline guests, on September 1 Chicago native Ramsey Lewis will perform his last live performance in Chicago before his retirement.

"As the Chicago Jazz Festival expands from Millennium Park into venues all across the city, we are proud to feature many iconic musicians who found their voice right here in Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Ramsey Lewis has been a staple in the jazz community for more than 60 years and I look forward to welcoming him back home for his final performance in the city."

The Chicago Jazz Festival will expand with free performances in neighborhood clubs and venues from August 24 to 29, leading up to the concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and in Millennium Park. The additional performances offer festival audiences even more free opportunities to experience Chicago’s exceptional jazz sounds at some of the city’s legendary music venues. An expanded schedule of these performances and participating locations will be announced in June.

"In honor of the 40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, we hope to encourage collaboration within the Jazz community to build excitement and promote the city as a destination for Jazz by expanding the festival into the neighborhoods," said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. "The city is excited to support venues and Jazz presenting organizations to showcase Chicago's local talent alongside national artists to raise awareness and appreciation for one of the city’s most beloved art forms."

The FREE admission Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by DCASE and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC).  More information is available at chicagojazzfestival.us.

 

Wednesday, August 29

New for 2018, the Chicago Jazz Festival has added an additional evening in Millennium Park featuring Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic presentation of Legends and Lions, 6:30–9 p.m. The full orchestra program will feature jazz legends sharing the stage with emerging young artist “lions” in a showcase of talents. Preceding the concert, Chicago youth musicians will lead a second-line style parade through the park, encouraging attendees of all ages to join in the procession.

Thursday, August 30

Each evening, Thursday through Sunday of the festival, a half hour before the music begins at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the headline performances will kick off with a New Orleans inspired second-line procession presented by Mystic Crew of Laff Theater Co. featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band, starting at Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) and proceeding around the Great Lawn to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Opening the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Thursday at 5:25 p.m. is saxophonist and composer Geof Bradfield whose work has been featured in countless projects, including six albums receiving critical accolades from the New York Times, Downbeat, the Chicago Tribune and NPR. At 6:30 p.m., composer and bandleader Nicole Mitchell, best known for her work as a flutist, will perform her recent multidisciplinary work, incorporating original video art with her latest Afrofuturist suite Mandorla Awakening which was cited as a top jazz recording in the New York Times and the LA Times for 2017.

One of the world’s foremost jazz vocalists and GRAMMY® Award winner Kurt Elling will close the evening at 7:45 p.m. Named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association on eight occasions, Elling brings his rich baritone voice spanning four octaves and featuring both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. His repertoire includes original compositions and modern interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for inspired improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry.

Friday, August 31

The festival will pay tribute at 4:15 p.m. to the world-renowned pianist, composer and educator Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams who was known for his unique and diverse compositions and was at the forefront of the contemporary music scene for more than 68 years. Dr. Abrams also helped to establish the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

Chicago saxophonists Pat Mallinger and Cameron Pfiffner have been co-leading Sabertooth at the legendary Green Mill Jazz Club every Saturday night into Sunday morning for 25 years. At 5:25 p.m. the Sabertooth 25th Anniversary set will offer a musical selection for all to enjoy, whether a newbie or veteran jazz fan. Jazz drummer Louis Hayes developed his skills in Detroit during the 1950s. During his early years, he and bassist Sam Jones became known as the "dynamic duo," recognized as the most powerful rhythm duo in jazz. Louis Hayes, who has played and recorded with jazz greats such as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, John Lee Hooker and others. His set, Louis Hayes: “Seranade for Horace” will start at 6:30 p.m.

The final performer for the evening at 7:45 p.m. is five-time GRAMMY® Award winner Dianne Reeves, the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world. As a result of her breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess and unique jazz and R&B stylings, Reeves received the GRAMMY® Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for three consecutive recordings – a Grammy first in any vocal category. Most notably, Reeves is the recipient of honorary doctorates from both the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School, and most recently the National Endowment for the Arts presented Reeves with the Jazz Master Award – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists.

Saturday, September 1

The evening’s opener at 4:15 p.m. will feature a special tribute to Chicago Jazz pianist Willie Pickens. Known as a piano powerhouse, he began his career in 1961 on Eddie Harris’s national hit record Exodus. Instead of staying on the touring jazz scene, he became a Chicago Public School (CPS) teacher and a mentor to scores of upcoming musicians. Following his retirement from CPS, Willie increased his performance schedule, and by the time he passed his 80th birthday, Willie was busier, more in demand and playing better than ever.

Jazz Master Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant piano playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Kenny Barron Quintet, recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition, will take the stage 5:25 p.m. The Vancouver-born, Brooklyn-based composer and bandleader Darcy James Argue and his 18-piece ensemble Secret Society have garnered countless awards and nominations. They will hit the stage at 6:25 p.m. with their reimagining of a 21st-century big band in a performance celebrated for its precision and sound.

Saturday’s final performer at 7:45 p.m. is none other than Chicago jazz pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis in his last live performance in Chicago before he retires. As a major figure in contemporary jazz, Lewis plays music with a warm, open personality. Early in his career he formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio with bassist Eldee Young and percussionist Redd Holt. The trio recorded a swinging version of Dobie Gray’s hit "The In Crowd," earning Lewis his first gold record, as well as a GRAMMY® Award for Best Jazz Performance – the first of three. He has recorded R&B and Latin-influenced material with the hit album Sun Goddess and explored his roots in more traditional jazz sounds as well. Throughout his career, he recorded over 80 albums and penned several pieces for string ensemble and orchestras. In 2007 he received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award.

Sunday, September 2

Matt Ulery’s Loom Large will open the final night of performances at 4:15 p.m. As a Chicago-based bassist, composer and bandleader, Ulery has developed an instantly recognizable sound. His music covers the spectrum of jazz, classical, rock, pop and folk– specifically American, South American, Balkan and other European folk styles. They will be followed by the Arturo O’Ferrill Sextet at 5:25 p.m. O’Ferrill is the current pianist, composer and director for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. Before the final performance of the festival, saxophonist Charles McPherson and pianist Barry Harris will collaborate for a set at 6:25 p.m.

At 7:45 p.m., Maceo Parker will close the 40th edition of the Chicago Jazz Festival. Mr. Parker has played with each and every leader of funk, starting with James Brown. For the last two decades Maceo Parker has enjoyed a blistering solo career, building a new funk empire – one that is both fresh and stylistically diverse while exploring mellower jazz and the grooves of hip hop. His collaborations over the years have included George Clinton, Prince, Ray Charles, Ani Difranco, James Taylor, De La Soul, Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. His timeless sound has garnered him a fresh young fan base.

 

Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park Day Stages

On Thursday, August 30, the Jazz Festival will feature performances throughout the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Highlights include jazz pianist Stu Mindeman and his Trio, jazz pianist, composer, producer and sound designer Paul Giallorenzo with his Trio and many more. In conjunction with the City of Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth, the festival will present a Spoken Word Event by Young Chicago Authors.

The Von Freeman Pavilion on the South Promenade in Millennium Park will feature music from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. beginning Friday, August 31, through Sunday, June 2. Highlights include alto saxophonist Greg Ward and 10 Tongues on Friday at 3 p.m. and on Saturday at 3 p.m., organist, pianist, vocalist and composer Amina Claudine Myers Trio will perform. On Sunday at 11:30 a.m., the festival will present a wonderful tribute to Chicago jazz pianist John Wright and his south side soul and end the day with the Eric Reevis Quartet at 3 p.m.

The Jazz and Heritage Pavilion on the North Promenade in Millennium Park will present a wide range of artists from noon until 4 p.m. beginning Friday, August 31, through Sunday, June 2. Highlights include jazz pianist Steve Million on Friday at 3 p.m., The Chuck Webb Band featuring Margaret Murphy on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., followed by Nolatet from New Orleans performing their unique rendition of that city’s traditional sound at 3 p.m. Chicago guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque will close the stage on Sunday at 3 p.m.

 

Roof Top Jazz: Young Jazz Lions and NextGen Jazz

2018 was declared the Year of Creative Youth in Chicago and in keeping with the festival’s tradition of nurturing young artists, on Saturday, September 1, the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace in Millennium Park will feature the Roof Top Jazz: Young Jazz Lions, select groups from a city-wide jazz band competition that was co-hosted by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. On Sunday, September 2, the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace hosts Roof Top Jazz: NextGenJazz, focusing on up-and-coming Chicago musicians alongside notable regional and national touring artists. The lineup for this year will be posted at a later date.

For the Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park, some important changes are coming to improve security and the visitor experience at the park. The City of Chicago will implement a security perimeter and bag check for all concerts and events that take place in the park. New this year, outside alcohol will be prohibited in the park during the Chicago Jazz Festival. Visitors will have additional food and beverage options at various price points available for purchase inside the venue. Subject to bag search at the security perimeter, guests will continue to be allowed to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to all events at Millennium Park.

Admission to the Chicago Jazz Festival is free. Hours for Wednesday, August 29, in Millennium Park are 6:30–9:30 p.m., and for Thursday, August 28, are noon–4:30 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center and 6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. in Millennium Park. On Friday, September 1, through Sunday, September 3, the festival will be in Millennium Park, 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

 

40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival Schedule of Performances
-Schedule subject to change-

 

Wednesday, August 29

Millennium Park - Jay Pritzker Pavillion
6:30–9 p.m.  Orbert Davis Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: Legends and Lions

 

Thursday, August 30

Chicago Cultural Center - Claudia Cassidy Theater
11 a.m–Noon  Paul Giallorenzo (Trio)
12:15–1:15 p.m.  Great Black Music Ensemble (Octet)
1:45–2:45 p.m.  Young Chicago Authors - Spoken Word Event
3:15–4:15 p.m.  Miyumi Project (Sextet)

Chicago Cultural Center - Preston Bradley Hall
12:30–1:30 p.m.  Carmen Stokes Quartet
2–3 p.m.  Stu Mindeman Trio
3:30– 4:30 p.m.  Chicago Cellar Boys Quintet

Park Grill Plaza Stage
Noon–2 p.m. Julius Tucker
4–6 p.m. Thaddeus Tukes Vibez

Millennium Park - Jay Pritzker Pavilion            
5 p.m.  Second-line Procession Presented by Mystic Crew of Laff Theater Co. featuring the Big Shoulders BrassBand (starts at Cloud Gate)
5:25–6:15 p.m.  Geof Bradfield
6:30–7:25 p.m.  Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening
7:45–9 p.m.  Kurt Elling

 

Friday, August 31

Millennium Park - Von Freeman Pavilion (South Promenade)
11:30 a.m.–12:25 p.m.  Junius Paul
12:40–1:35 p.m.  Quin Kirchner
1:50–2:45 p.m.  Chris Speed Trio
3–4p.m.  Greg Ward and 10 Tongues

Millennium Park - Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)
Hosted by WDCB – Chicago’s Home for Jazz!

Noon–1 p.m.  Gayle Kolb
1:30–2:30 p.m.  Roy McGrath
3–4 p.m.  Steve Million

Park Grill Plaza Stage
Noon–2 p.m. High Hat
4–6 p.m. Bowmanville

Millennium Park - Jay Pritzker Pavilion
3:45 p.m.  Second-line Procession Presented by Mystic Crew of Laff Theater Co. featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at Cloud Gate)
4:15–5:05 p.m.  Tribute to Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams
5:25–6:15 p.m.  Sabertooth 25th Anniversary
6:30–7:25 p.m.  Louis Hayes: “Seranade for Horace”
7:45–9 p.m.  Dianne Reeves

 

Saturday, September 1

Millennium Park - Von Freeman Pavilion (South Promenade)
11:30 a.m.–12:25 p.m.  Black Diamond
12:40–1:35 p.m.  Dustin Laurenzi
1:50–2:45 p.m.  Matthew Shipp and Ivo Perelman
3–4 p.m.  Amina Claudine Myers Trio

Millennium Park - Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)
Hosted by WDCB – Chicago’s Home for Jazz!    

Noon–1 p.m.  Bruce Henry
1:30–2:30 p.m.  The Chuck Webb Band featuring Margaret Murphy
3–4 p.m.  Nolatet

Park Grill Plaza Stage
Noon–2 p.m. Petra van Nuis
4–6 p.m. Isabella Sherwood

Young Jazz Lions (Harris Rooftop)
11–11:30am - ChiArts Jazz Combo
11:45am–12:15pm - Morgan Park High School Jazz Combo
12:30–1pm - CYSO Jazz Combo
1:15–1:55pm - Eric Solorio High School Jazz Ensemble
2:10–2:50pm - Whitney Young High School Jazz Ensemble
3:05–3:45pm - Kenwood Academy Jazz Band

Millennium Park - Jay Pritzker Pavilion
3:45 p.m.  Second-line Procession Presented by Mystic Crew of Laff Theater Co. featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at Cloud Gate)
4:15–5:05 p.m.  Tribute to Willie Pickens
5:25–6:10 p.m.  Kenny Barron Quintet
6:25–7:25 p.m.  Darcy James Argue
7:45–9 p.m.  Ramsey Lewis

 

Sunday, September 2

Millennium Park - Von Freeman Pavilion (South Promenade)
11:30 a.m.–12:25 p.m.  Tribute to John Wright
12:40–1:35 p.m.  Jaimie Branch's Fly or Die
1:50–2:45 p.m.  Jason Stein Quartet
3–4 p.m.  Eric Revis Quartet

Millennium Park - Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)
Hosted by WDCB – Chicago’s Home for Jazz!

Noon–1 p.m.  Quentin Coaxum
1:30–2:30 p.m.  Alejandro Urzagaste
3–4 p.m.  Fareed Haque

Park Grill Plaza Stage
Noon–2 p.m. Lucas Gillan
4–6 p.m. Irvin Pierce

NextGen Jazz (Harris Rooftop)
11:15am-Noon - Derek Duleba Quartet
12:15-1pm - Cesar Martinez’s Cuicatl
1:15-2pm - Morgan Pirtle+5
2:15-3pm - Greg Uhlmann’s Typical Sisters
3:15-4pm - Jahari Stampley Ensemble

Millennium Park - Jay Pritzker Pavilion
3:45 p.m.  Second-line Procession Presented by Mystic Crew of Laff Theater Co. featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at Cloud Gate)
4:15–5:05 p.m.  Matt Ulery’s Loom Large
5:25–6:10 p.m.  Arturo O'Farrill Sextet
6:25–7:25 p.m.  Charles McPherson and Barry Harris Quartet
7:45–9 p.m.  Maceo Parker