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JazzCity 2019: A Journey Through Jazz - Women of Chicago Jazz on March 8


A Joyful Celebration of Lil Hardin Armstrong,

Dorothy Donegan and Earma Thompson

March 8, 2019 at 7PM

Garfield Park Conservatory

300 N. Central Park Ave


Two gifted pianists – the veteran Bethany Pickens and the up and coming Alexis Lombre – will help give their female predecessors the attention and respect they deserve by celebrating the contributions of three Chicago icons:

Pianist, composer and arranger Lil Hardin Armstrong, a key member of Louis Armstrong's historical Hot Five and Hot Seven bands of the 1920's and a bandleader in her own right.

Pianist Dorothy Donegan, a classical prodigy and protégé of Art Tatum who dazzled audiences with her virtuosity and entertained them with her flamboyance.

Pianist Earma Thomson, an earthy stylist who was a mainstay in Chicago for a half-century – she accompanied Billie Holiday – but remained a best kept secret until late in life. Having retired from an active career to raise her son, she didn't release her first album as a leader until she was 81.

Pickens has had a distinguished career as both a musician and educator. Her dual piano performances with her late, great father Willie Pickens were much prized. She has contributed greatly to future generations of jazz as an instructor with the Ravinia Jazz Scholars Program, director of the Chicago Public Schools All-City Elementary Jazz Ensemble and piano instructor at her alma mater, Kenwood Academy High School.

Lombre, a product of the Jazz Institute's training programs who studied with Willie Pickens, blends the sounds of Chicago's South Side, where she grew up; Kansas City, where her mother grew up, and Detroit, as a student at the University of Michigan. She leads various bands and works as a side musician.

Pickens and Lombre will be backed by an excellent band including Pharez Whitted on trumpet, Kaliq Woods on clarinet, Junius Paul on bass and Charles Heath on drums.

The battle for equality continues, but having had to fight so long for every opportunity and scrap of recognition, women are finally being acknowledged for their contributions and heard on their own terms – and not as "female jazz artists," but artists who transcend gender.

The concert is also dedicated to two women who have made important contributions to Chicago jazz: former Chicago Tribune jazz critic Harriet Choice and former Symphony Center and Ravinia Festival jazz programmer Penny Tyler, co-founders of the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the Jazz Institute in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, now in its 22nd season of bringing people together from across the city to listen to Chicago’s top jazz musicians. JazzCity is sponsored by WDCB 90.9 FM and WHPK 88.5 FMRadio and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information visit www. Jazzinchicago.org or call 312.427.1676.


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