The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) announces the 2020/21 Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Jazz series programming. Despite the uncertain times facing the performing arts and our community, and with an acknowledgement that some of these plans may need to change, the CSOA is pleased to continue its commitment to presenting some of today’s most acclaimed and innovative jazz artists with the 27th season of Symphony Center's jazz series.
In addition to those programs, the 2020/21 season offers a variety of music and projects. In October, the series welcomes two percussionists with Chicago roots—Jack DeJohnette and Thaddeus Tukes—in a program that is a part of the Year of Chicago Music, a citywide, yearlong focus on music designated by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and
Special Events (DCASE). In April, two programs feature a couple of today’s leading women in jazz—vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant with her fresh interpretations of jazz standards and Maria Schneider and her orchestra performing her latest work, Data Lords. Additionally, both Dave Holland and Danilo Pérez have developed programs exclusively for the SCP Jazz series that showcase each of these artists with multiple ensembles. Program details for each of the 10 concerts in the 2020/21 SCP Jazz series follow. All SCP Jazz series concerts in the 2020/21 season take place on Fridays at 8:00 p.m. at Symphony Center in Chicago unless noted otherwise.
The concert on Friday, April 16, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., features three-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. After her 2010 win at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist Competition, McLorin Salvant quickly established herself as a jazz artist worthy of acclaim. In addition to her wide range and unwavering pitch control, she is regarded for her compelling, sincere storytelling armed with wit and gravitas in equal measure. Her SCP jazz series program includes a set of original compositions, as well as jazz standards reinvigorated by her clever interpretations. On Friday, April 23, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., composer, Grammy Award-winner and NEA Jazz Master Maria Schneider and her 18-piece jazz orchestra present Data Lords, the bandleader’s latest project, which will be released as a double album on June 5. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, Data Lords is Schneider’s musical response to the impact that the data-driven digital world has on humanity. Melding jazz and classical ideas in new ways, Schneider has composed music that includes rhythms that spell out Morse code messages like power, greed, SOS and CQ (is anybody there?), as well as bright timbres and rising harmonies that evoke the rising sun. Bassist and NEA Jazz Master Dave Holland headlines the program on Friday, May 21, 2021, at 8:00 p.m. The first half of the concert features Holland in a set with pianist and fellow NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, a duo that has been trading riffs seamlessly for more than three decades. For the second half of the concert, guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Obed Calvaire join Holland for a dynamic, high-energy performance showcasing the technical capabilities and driving elegance of this trio of jazz heavyweights.
The 2020/21 SCP Jazz series comes to a close on Friday, June 11, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., with a concert led by pianist and composer Danilo Pérez. For the first half, Pérez brings his international chamber group Global Messengers for a performance of his latest work, Fronteras, which received its premiere in summer 2019 at the Detroit Jazz Festival. This new, three- movement work traces short stories about migration and demonstrates the practice of building community through music. For the second half of the concert, Pérez brings his trio Children of the Light, with longtime collaborators from their days in Wayne Shorter’s quartet—bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. This program highlights the intuitive give and take in improvisation with the combined layers of strings, drums and rhythmically charged piano playing. Beyond the 10 concerts in the 2020/21 SCP Jazz series, several Symphony Center Presents Special Concerts have also been announced. As previously announced, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis presents an SCP Special Concert celebrating the centennials of Charlie Parker and Dave Brubeck on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Branford Marsalis performs a program that explores the intersection of the jazz and classical genres on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, at 7:30 p.m., and legendary tabla player Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion present their program that fuses traditional Indian music with an ensemble of virtuoso percussionists on Friday, April 2, 2021, at 8:00 p.m.