Hyde Park Jazz Festival. A splendid event that reaches across its neighborhood, the 12th annual fest will feature harpist Brandee Younger, pianist Kris Davis, Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Mike Reed’s “The City Was Yellow: The Chicago Suite,” Christian Sands Trio with Marcus Strickland, Ravi Coltrane, Kenwood Academy Jazz Band, Jason Moran and more. Sept. 28 and 29 in Hyde Park; free, with suggested $5 donation; www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org.Read More
Last year, the Orchestre National de Jazz in France invited drummer-impresario Mike Reed to compose a suite of pieces dedicated to Chicago, where he’s based.
But Reed — founding director of the Pitchfork Music Festival, creator of the Constellation arts center and managing partner of the Hungry Brain music venue — believed he had a better idea.
“I said, ‘That’s music that’s already been written,’” he explains.
Meaning that there’s already a vast body of repertoire written by Chicagoans for and about the city.Read More
by Bridget Vaughn and Kyle Oleksiuk
On 73rd Street and Paxton, toward Merrill, at least one hundred people marched: past cars, over puddles, into alleys and across the block. As they marched, they held bundles of herbs in the air, played percussion, danced, and waved flags. This scene was the beginning of the Back Alley Jazz Festival—and the man at the front of the crowd, who rode in a mint-green Pedicab and wore a sash that read “Grand Marshall,” was Jimmy Ellis, a saxophonist who has been playing in Chicago since 1948.Read More
by The Chicago Community Trust Staff
By seven o’clock in the evening on a muggy Saturday in July, the backyard of Zenja Vaughn’s house at 7343 S. Paxton was filled to capacity. Visitors brought lawn chairs and coolers, or balanced plates of jerk chicken and ribs from a food truck on their knees as they waited, eyes fixed on the concrete parking pad. Folks who didn’t fit crammed into the alley to watch through the open gate, or peered over the fence from the house next door. The attraction, the headliner of the day’s Back Alley Jazz festival, was vocalist Maggie Brown and her ensemble.Read More
By Howard Reich
At first glance, the lineup for the 12th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival suggests a bulging array of styles and musical idioms.
For any event that features singer Dee Alexander and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, vibraphonist Thaddeus Tukes and the Kenwood Academy Jazz Band, harpist Brandee Younger and pianist and MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran clearly encompasses a wide swath of artistic territory.
But as always with this intelligently programmed festival – which will run Sept. 29-30 at multiple Hyde Park locations – underlying themes and messages will drive the proceedings.Read More
by Bridget Vaughn
In its eleventh year, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival drew large crowds two weekends ago. The free two-day festival offered music lovers ten venues to hear some of the best local, national, and international music on the planet.
On Saturday, the festival paid tribute to and celebrated the one-hundredth birthday of famed jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, who was born on October 10. The fest’s curators brought four perspectives on the life and legacy of Monk, starting with a biographical perspective in the afternoon, and ending with three unique musical interpretations in the evening.Read More
by Howard Mandel
Chicago’s Hyde Park Jazz Festival in the first days of fall (Sept. 23 & 24th) which were unusually hot, is an exceptional event, curated for creative artistry, local and otherwise, drawing a highly diverse crowd to a fair that mixes popular and specialized performances at a range of boutique venues.Read More
by Mark Corrotto
Even though the 11th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival is on the books and the music is no longer audible, the spirit of the weekend endures. What has become an annual rite and celebration of music, culture, and maybe above, all the spirit of Chicago's South side, is a bucket list experience that you can repeat yearly. The two-day celebration features thirty- five performances at thirteen different venues in and around the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. If you do the math, that's sixteen hours of music. Kind of like an ultra-endurance event for the ears.Read More
by Michael Jackson
The 11th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, populating a dozen varied venues amid the picturesque splendor of the festival’s namesake neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, proved as stimulating as ever this time around (Sept. 23–24). Programmed for the sixth year by the astute, visionary Kate Dumbleton—and assisted by music manager Carolyn Albritton, managing director Olivia Junell and stalwart new operations manager Dave Rempis, among others—the HPJF is unlike any other festival in its intensity and pace. Its principal hit: an offering of 30 presentations between 1 p.m. and midnight on Sept. 23.Read More
by Howard Reich
Two world premieres, one piano colossus, a brilliant look at Thelonious Monk and a couple of vibraphonists swinging hard in a house of worship.
Now that’s a jazz festival — more specifically, the 11th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, which ends Sunday.
As always, the event unfolded smoothly, albeit with one surprising misstep: Audience members were allowed to sit on the stairs that form the aisles of the Logan Center Performance Hall, an obvious safety hazard.
Otherwise, though, Chicago’s most appealing jazz festival turned several blocks of Hyde Park into a sprawling musical nexus.
Here’s a diary of Saturday’s highlights:Read More
by Howard Reich
In 2007, when a group of South Side visionaries launched the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, they hoped to bring long overdue attention to a neighborhood rich in jazz history.
“There are so many people in Chicago who simply don’t go south of Roosevelt Road,” James Wagner, one of the co-founders of the festival, told me at the time.
“On the North Side, a lot of people just don’t think of it.”
Since then, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival has become a magnet for thousands of listeners each fall, the 11th annual event featuring Chicago and visiting musicians on several stages this weekend.
Following are one listener’s picks for the most promising sets, the music unfolding at several Hyde Park venues on Saturday and on two outdoor stages on the Midway Plaisance (one named for Wagner, who died in 2009) on Saturday and Sunday. All performances are free; the music plays from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday; for more information, visit www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org.Read More
by Peter Margasak
The 11th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival kicks off tomorrow with a typically packed schedule of diverse sounds, focusing on some of the city's most important and creative forces while making room for a selective smattering of national and international attractions. In this week's paper I highlighted a couple of duo performances by Nick Mazzarella & Tomeka Reid and Andrew Cyrille & Bill McHenry, but naturally there's much more that's worth your time.Read More
by Zach Long
Marking the tail end of summer music festival season (and September's second big jazz-oriented event), the Hyde Park Jazz Festival brings Chicago's best performers and some talented visitors to the South Side neighborhood. Spread out over the course of two days and taking place at various venues, the festival is packed with worthwhile performances, but it can be difficult to decide what to see, even if you frequent Chicago jazz clubs. To make the decision as easy as possible, we've picked our five favorite performances on the Hyde Park Jazz Festival lineup, including a set from local drummer Makaya McCraven and a hotly anticipated collaboration between bandleaders from Chicago and Mali.Read More
by Howard Reich
Many musicians have performed for students at Smith Elementary School, on East 103rd Street, but none quite like the visitors who appeared Monday morning.
For they brought with them music of their homeland: Mali.
They came to Smith in the company of eminent flutist Nicole Mitchell, who years ago worked as a teaching artist there and at other Chicago Public Schools. Mitchell left Chicago in 2011 to teach at the University of California at Irvine, but she has returned to this city often and long has dreamed of collaborating with Malian counterparts.Read More
by Christian Belanger
Up next in our series of interviews with notable, in-the-know locals: Kate Dumbleton, executive and artistic director of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, which starts Saturday.
A focal point of this year’s festival is Thelonious Monk’s centennial. How did you program that?
There’s a lot of centennials this year for jazz heroes: Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk. I decided to explore one of them in depth. Dee Alexander proposed a project called Monk and the Ladies, which is an all-women’s group playing Monk’s oeuvre, thinking about the vocal aspects of that. And I knew I wanted to bring in Robin Kelley—he’s written the definitive biography of Monk. I asked him to come give a talk about Monk at 100. In all, we’re doing four very different tacks on the work.Read More
by Evan Hamlin
Thelonious Monk, a musician whose personality was as enigmatic as his music was influential, will be celebrated at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Sept. 23 – 24, in honor of his 100th birthday.
Four events will be held in tribute of Monk’s visionary style. The first will be a lecture by University of California, Los Angeles Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History Robin Kelley. Kelley’s lecture will draw on information from his acclaimed 2009 book on Monk titled “Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.”Read More
by Neil Tesser
Offering a sort of drum roll for the upcoming Hyde Park Jazz Festival, GRAMMY® Award-winning journalist and jazz aficionado Neil Tesser shared his understanding of improvisation as it relates to what he described as “a truly American artform” with residents and visitors at Montgomery Place, 5550 South Shore Drive on Thursday, Sept. 14.
“Jazz is a great mongrel, a great sponge. It’s constantly evolving,” he said, inviting the audience of 60 or so to listen to a bebop tune, Koko, created by Charlie Parker, he said, “When you hear the speed and complexity, you realize no one can do this unless they don’t have to think about it.”Read More
by Peter Margasak
One feature of the Hyde Park Jazz Fest that has quietly distinguished it over the last few years is the prevalence of dynamic duos, whether the pairings are new or seasoned, improvised or driven by tunes. Notable among this year’s terrific offerings is the first local performance by alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and cellist Tomeka Reid since the release of their superb debut album, Signaling (Nessa).
When I attended this year’s Winter Jazz Fest in New York, no set gave me greater pleasure or made me think as much as a performance by endlessly inventive drummer Andrew Cyrille and often-overlooked tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry, who played music from their excellent 2016 album, Proximity (Sunnyside).Read More
by Peter Margasak
This annual fest showcasing Chicago's rich jazz scene includes some great out-of-town headliners in the two-day lineup of its 11th iteration, among them trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and the duo of drummer Andrew Cyrille & Bill McHenry. As usual, though, locals provide most of the heat: to name just two, veteran saxophonist Ari Brown leads a group with Oliver Lake, and flutist Nicole Mitchell debuts a collaboration with Malian kora master Ballaké Sissoko.1 PM, multiple venues, $5 suggested donation per show, $125 Jazz Pass available for priority seating at all shows. For the full lineup, see hydeparkjazzfestival.org, all ages.Read More
by Peter Margasak
Malian kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko roots his playing in traditional Mande modes—his 2013 solo album At Peace (Six Degrees) is a beautiful case in point—but he's also distinguished himself by bridging cultural divides through thoughtful collaboration. He's worked with American bluesman Taj Mahal, Chinese pipa master Liu Fang, French cellist Vincent Segal, Italian contemporary classical pianist Ludovico Einaudi, and Moroccan oud player Driss El Maloumi. That roll call is evidence of his curiosity and versatility—he can draw upon improvisational creativity to make new situations work. This new project promises to be as exciting and rewarding as any he's undertaken, because he's joining forces with one of the most dynamic composers, improvisers, and bandleaders in the world: former Chicagoan Nicole Mitchell.Read More