Summer in Chicago goes out with a bang — and some bebop, funk, and skat as well — at the Labor Day weekend spectacular, the Chicago Jazz Festival on September 3-6.
The oldest of Chicago’s free lakefront music festivals, the festival marks its 37th year in 2015, and will boast incredibly diverse live sets across its carefully-curated four days, September 3-6. An all-ages, multi-venue music event, the Chicago Jazz Festival brings free jazz music to several stages in downtown’s beautiful Millennium Park including Jay Pritzker Pavilion, as well as inside the Chicago Cultural Center.
Highlights of the festival include:
Thursday, September 3: The festival kicks off with an afternoon full of multiple performances on Thursday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Don’t miss the opening acts at Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Thursday night, trumpeter and composer Marquis Hill with his supporting group of musicians, known as the Blacktet, and the bluesy New Orleans jazz ensemble Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9. Held at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph Street), this event is free.
Friday, September 4: The festival will continue programming on Friday afternoon, with multiple stages in Millennium Park showcasing live jazz daily throughout the weekend. Friday night performances at Jay Pritzker Pavilion begin with saxophonistChico Freeman and his guitarist uncle George Freeman. And to conclude the evening, a number of musicians from the jazz community will come together for the Billy Strayhorn Centennial Celebration with Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra featuring arrangements by John Hollenbeck, Steven Bernstein, Gordon Godwin and Ed Wilkerson. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph Street). Free.
Saturday, September 5: Saturday programming for the festival will feature multiple stages of live jazz in Millennium Park. Winds, percussion and voices ensemble, Douglas Ewart and Inventions, will open Saturday evening at the Pritzker Pavilion. Headlining Saturday night, American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater will showcase her many talents. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph Street). Free.
Sunday, September 6: The festival’s final day of programming will again feature multiple free stages of live jazz in Millennium Park. At the Pritzker Pavilion,the Jeff Parker Trio will take the stage to start off the night. Concluding the Chicago Jazz Festival, the 2015 version of the Experimental Band will perform, including band leader Muhal Richard Abrams with Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, LaRoy Wallace McMillan, Wadada Leo Smith, Amina Claudine Myers, George Lewis, Leonard Jones, Thurman Barker and Reggie Nicholson. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph Street). Free
The Chicago Jazz Festival is programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Founded in 1969, the Jazz Institute of Chicago promotes and nurtures jazz in Chicago. They do this by providing jazz education, developing and supporting musicians, building audiences and fostering a thriving jazz scene. They’ve been an active partner in the creative community since 1969; programming the Chicago Jazz Festival since 1979 and the Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz concert series at the request of the City in 2005 and partnering with the Chicago Park District since 1997 for the JazzCity concert series which brings Chicago’s stellar talent right into neighborhoods for free.
It is the only jazz organization in Chicago that offers the breadth of opportunities for artists old, new and yet-to-be to create and perform new work in high visibility venues; that collaborates directly with Chicago Public School teachers to create programs for their students and professional development for themselves. They provide a center of gravity for our community to be productive and thrive through performance, education, advocacy for and access to jazz.