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The 38th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival to Combine History National Artists and Local Favorites

The 38th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival will take place Labor Day Weekend September 1-4 in Millennium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center and will once again focus on a wide range of jazz styles featuring both local musicians and jazz artists from around the world.

Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, this year’s festival will celebrate the centennial of the Great Migration, the mass movement of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to the urban Midwest, Northeast and West that took place beginning in 1916. Chicago was a key destination for that transformative relocation and will be marked in several ways throughout this year’s festival, most notably in the premiere performance of “Soul Migration,” a new piece by Chicago trumpeter, composer and bandleader Orbert Davis commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Festival that will headline opening night on Thursday, September 1. Davis’ piece will trace the route of the people and the music that made the trek northward with a suite that takes listeners on a moving journey of their own, with Davis leading an expanded quintet on a bold multi-part work that marries words and music, electric and acoustic sounds, North and South, present and past.

Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans, led by full-throated clarinetist Doreen Kitchens, exemplifies the source of the musical river that wound its way north, while Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra resurrects some of early jazz’s seminal composers, including Chicago legend Tiny Parham, Fletcher Henderson, Fess Williams and Charlie Johnson. Among those who made the northward trek into jazz renown are legendary guitarist Charlie Christian, who will be the subject of a tribute concert by Chicago guitarist John McLean and his six-string-centric ensemble Guitar Madness, and living legend Harold Mabern, who began life in Memphis in 1936, will celebrate his 80th birthday in his longtime home of Chicago with the quartet he co-leads with torch-bearing saxophonist Eric Alexander.

Once Chicago was established as a key destination for the Great Migration, the city became home to generations of jazz giants, including tenor greats Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin and Eddie Harris. Saxophonist Edwin Daugherty, who has played with the likes of Barry White and Roberta Flack, will pay tribute to all three with tenor titan Ari Brown and storied saxophonist (and bagpiper) Artee “Duke” Payne at his side. Another is the late singer, songwriter, poet and playwright Oscar Brown, Jr., a true renaissance man and an impassioned civil rights activist. With their project Brown in Bronzeville Effect, daughters Maggie & Africa Brown will, like their old man, sing out in the name of freedom.

This year’s line-up will also feature a wide range of nationally recognized talent including saxophonist Benny Golson, Joe Lovano and John Scofield co-leading a quartet, The Bad Plus playing the music of Ornette Coleman, trumpeter and New Orleans native Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah; drummer Barry Altschul, a key figure in 70s avantgarde jazz; Israeli-born saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen; tenor saxophonist JD Allen; and the raucous trio Tarbaby, featuring drummer Nasheet Waits, pianist Orrin Evans and bassist Eric Revis, with special guest Oliver Lake.

The festival will also provide the opportunity for audiences to appreciate a few of Chicago’s finest musicians including pianist Erwin Helfer, who will mark his own 80th birthday with a solo performance at this year’s festival; drummer George Fludas, who will be leading his quartet that you can hear weekly at Andy’s Jazz Club; drummer Greg Rockingham and his trio; and a special set with pianist Norman Simmons, known for his stints at the Beehive on 55th Street, where his trio backed the likes of Charlie Parker and Lester Young. In addition, other local favorites will also be featured including organist and pianist Dan Trudell, saxophonists Eric Schneider and Pat Mallinger, trumpeter Pharez Whitted and Brian O’Hern and the Model Citizens, who celebrated their twentieth anniversary this year.

The city’s adventurous reputation is spotlighted as well by tenor saxophonist Nate Lepine leading his band Magic Carpet, Tatsu Aoki and his MIYUMI Project, violinist James Sanders and his Proyecto Libre project, drummer Michael Zerang & the Blue Lights, Mwata Bowden’s One Step in One Out and saxophonist Cameron Pfiffner’s Adolphe’s Ax.

Plus, there will be a focus on emerging local musicians with performances by vocalist Alyssa Allgood, 2014 winner of the DownBeat Award for Best Collegiate Vocal Jazz Soloist; trumpeter/flugelhornist Steve Schneck; saxophonist and Evanston native Chris Greene; the Victor Garcia Organ Septet; drummer Charles Rumback; trombonist Kendall Moore; and Polish native Luke Malewicz’ Heritage Quartet.

Here is the full schedule for the 38th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival:


Full Schedule

(subject to change)


Chicago Cultural Center

Claudia Cassidy Theater

Noon - 1 p.m. Dan Trudell Trio

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Eric Schneider/

Pat Mallinger Quintet

3 - 5:30 p.m. Charlie Haden – Rambling Boy (film + Q&A)

Preston Bradley Hall

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Mwata Bowden’s One

Foot In, One Foot Out

2 - 3 p.m. Louder Than A Bomb

Presents: The Bomb


3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Cameron Pififfner’s

Adolphe’s AX

Millennium Park

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Brown in Bronzeville

Effect with Maggie &

Africa Brown

8 - 9 p.m. Orbert Davis’ Soul Migration – Commissioned for the Great Black Migration Centennial Celebration


Millennium Park

Von Freeman Pavilion (South


Noon-12:55 p.m. James Sanders

Proyecto Libre

1:10 - 2:05 p.m. Magic Carpet

2.20 - 3:15 p.m. Greg Rockingham Quartet

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. John McLean: A tribute to Charlie Christian

2 - 3 p.m. Edwin Daugherty Sextet: Chicago legends; the music of Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin and Eddie Harris

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Pharez Whitted Quintet

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

5 - 5:50 p.m. Brian O’Hern and the Model Citizens

6 - 6:55 p.m. Tarbaby, featuring Nasheet Waits, Orrin Evans and Eric Reed with special guest Oliver Lake

7:10 - 8:10 p.m. Benny Golson Quartet

8:30 - 9:30 p.m. Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra conducted by Carla Bley: Celebrating Charlie


Millennium Park

Von Freeman Pavilion (South Promenade)

Noon-12:55 p.m. Steve Schneck Quartet

1:10 - 2:05 p.m. Alyssa Allgood Quintet

2:20 - 3:15 p.m. Chris Greene Quartet

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Victor Garcia Organ Septet

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Luke Malewicz Heritage Quartet

2 - 3 p.m. Nate Lepine Quartet

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. JD Allen Trio

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

5 - 5:50 p.m. Tatsu Aoki’s MIYUMI Project featuring Tsukasa Taiko, Jon Jang & Francis Wong

6 - 6:55 p.m. Eric Alexander / Harold Mabern Quartet

7:10 - 8:10 p.m. Anat Cohen Quartet

8:30 - 9:30 p.m. The Bad Plus perform Ornette Coleman’s SCIENCE FICTION w/Tim Berne, Ron Miles & Sam Newsome. This work was commissioned by Duke Performances at Duke University.


Millennium Park

Von Freeman Pavilion (South Promenade)

Noon-12:55 p.m. Kendall Moore Octet

1:10 - 2:05 p.m. Charles Rumback Sextet

2:20 - 3:15 p.m. George Fludas Quartet

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Barry Altschul’s 3Dom

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Erwin Helfer Solo Piano

2 - 3 p.m. Norman Simmons Trio

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

5 - 5:50 p.m. Michael Zerang & The Blue Lights

6 - 6:55 p.m. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

7:10 - 8:10 p.m. John Scofield / Joe Lovano Quartet

8:30 - 9:30 p.m. Candidos 5th Birthday Celebration featuring M.F. Production’s Latin Jazz All Stars Featuring: Candido, Steve Turre, Nestor Torres, Sammy Figueroa, Frankie Figueroa, Elio Villafranca, Yunior Terry, Diego Lopez, Jorge Castro and Guido Gonzalez.

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