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Digging Our Roots: Chicago’s Greatest Hits! Free listening sessions presented by the Jazz Institute



The Jazz Institute of Chicago, in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) announce an exciting new series of jazz listening sessions as a prelude to the year-long celebration of the Jazz Institute’s 50th anniversary.

Chicago has inspired jazz and blues artists to create classic recordings for 100 years, from Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton to Junior Wells, Earth, Wind and Fire and beyond. Curated by Howard Mandel, President of the Jazz Journalists Association and Jazz Institute Board member, current local jazz and blues stars will discuss our city’s musical masterpieces with renowned writers and broadcasters who have long, insightful ties to those enduring hits.

The first session, held on Thursday January 24, 2019 from 5:30-7PM at 78 E Washington, (1stfloor) will feature a lively conversation between radio journalist Richard Steele and trumpeter, composer and educator Orbert Davis about the music of trumpet innovator Louis Armstrong, and pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, one of a small number of pianists whose playing shaped the history of jazz.

Presented monthly from January-May in the intimate environs of the Cultural Center’s Bronzeville Stage, the interactive sessions will be conducted seminar-style, with opportunity for the audience to listen to recordings selected by the musicians and journalists and join in the conversation afterwards. Digging Our Roots will introduce new audiences to the glories of a century-old legacy and refresh aficionados’ love for the heritage of music that continues to inspire audiences and influence musicians world-wide today.

See Full Schedule below (artists subject to change)

Thursday January 24: Orbert Davis and Richard Steele on Louis Armstrong and Earl “Fatha” Hines

Thursday February 22: Blues and boogie pianist Erwin Helfer and writer and former downbeat Magazine editor John McDonough on pianist Jelly Roll Morton

Thursday March 21: Pianist, composer, bandleader Robert “Baabe” Irving III and WBEZ/Vocolo DJ Ayana Contreras on Chicago Jazz and Pop (Earth Wind and Fire, Minnie Ripperton, Curtis Mayfield)

Thursday April 25: Tenorwoman Juli Wood and jazz journalist Michael Jackson on the Chicago Tenor Sound (Gene Ammons, Von Freeman, Johnny Griffin et al)

Thursday May 23: Blues harp player and band leader Billy Branch and WDCB DJ Leslie Keros on blues icons Junior Wells, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.


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