Chicago gets ready for Jazzfest with a Weeklong Celebration

Chicago loves music, period. Few other cities can claim to have such a robust musical heritage that so loudly reverberates through the hallowed halls of musical history. This heritage is a rich blend of genres that appeal to every kind of music fan and one of these genres, jazz, has always been one of the biggest, shiniest jewels in Chicago’s musical crown. And to celebrate this wonderful style of music, the city of Chicago will hold a week-long series of events, culminating in the 29th annual Jazz Festival on August 30-September 2.

The city's skyline twinkles in this view form the stage at last year's festival.

To begin the celebration, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millienium Park will play host to a free concert on Monday, August 27 at 6:30 p.m. entitled “Chicago Jazz Philharmonic On Tap: Songs from the Chicago Songbook.” Conducted by Orbert Davis, this 50+ piece orchestra is one of the most versatile large orchestras in the world. As a perfect way to kick off a week-long celebration of a musical heritage, “Songs from the Chicago Song Book” will acknowledge the diverse writing and song stylings originating from the windy city by featuring memorable works from a range of artists, along with an original composition featuring Lane Alexander's Chicago Human Rhythm Project which was written expressly to integrate tap as a percussive musical voice. For more information on this event, please visit

Continuing the celebration on Tuesday, August 28 will be the Jazz Institute of Chicago with their 5th Annual Gala concert at the Harris Theater, located at 205 E. Randolph Drive.  Starting at 8:00 p.m., the gala will feature a special performance entitled “A Night in Havana: Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie,” where the band will consist of Dizzy’s protégé, Jon Faddis, bebop inventor James Moody, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, drummer Ignacio Berroa, bassist Peter Washington and master percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo. A reception will be held at the Mid America Club before the concert. Tickets for the concert range from $15 to $45 and can be purchased at, or by calling the theater box office at (312) 334-7777. Tickets for the pre-concert reception are $125 for Jazz Institute members, $150 for non-members and can be purchased by calling (312) 427-1676.

A drummer keeps rhythm at last year's festival.

On Wednesday, August 29 the week long celebration really begins to heat up as the Jazz Institute of Chicago will hold their annual jazz club tour. Starting at 6 p.m. and going to midnight, participants will visit as many as 14 clubs and hear some of the hottest jazz the Windy City has to offer. As part of the tour, the ESO Sextet will perform a special show in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall at 78 E. Washington Street. Tickets for the tour are $25 in advance (starting August 1) and $30 at the door of the clubs (includes admission and transportation). For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (312) 427-3400 or visit

Then, on Thursday, August 30, as the Chicago Jazz Festival gets ready to officially begin, warm up your ear drums by attending a free performance by The Anat Cohen Quartet at the Chicago Cultural Center at 6 p.m.

Then, at 7:30 p.m., the Chicago Jazz Festival officially opens at the Chicago Symphony Center at 220 S. Michigan Ave. Kicking off the weekend of jazz will be the legendary Herbie Hancock, who will bring his unique and eclectic sound back to his home town of Chicago. Tickets to see Herbie Hancock range from $16 to $46 and are available at the Chicago Symphony Center box office, by calling  (312) 294-3000 or at

Herbie Hancock will open the festival with a concert on Thursday, August 30.

Before heading over to Grant Park on Friday, August 31, wake up early to see a sneak preview of the film "Follow the Second Line” at the Chicago Symphony Center’s Buntrock Hall. Presented by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, this free event is open to all High-School music students and guests and will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The morning will begin with a preview of the highly anticipated documentary, which is about some of the leading New Orleans-displaced traditional jazz musicians, followed by a solo performance by the film’s main character, Clarinet Virtuoso Evan Christopher. After the performance,  there will be an intriguing panel discussion with Bob Koester, Mark Ruffin, Edward Wilderson, Fred Anderson and Kidd Jordan.  While the event is free, reservations are required and can be obtained at

Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood will headline the main stage on Friday, August 31.

Then, as the sun nears its peak in the morning sky, the Chicago Jazz Festival will re-open in Grant Park at 11 a.m. Running until Sunday, September 2, all are invited to enjoy free concerts from some of the world's leading jazz musicians, including Charlie Haden; Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood and the Mingus Big Band.  The event opens daily at 11 a.m., with music beginning at noon on the Jazz on Jackson stage and 12:30 p.m. at the Jazz and Heritage Family Stage.  Then at 5 p.m., the Petrillo Music Shell bursts to life for three evenings of spectacular Jazz performances, tributes and entertainment that even the most finicky jazz fan can enjoy.

Charlie Haden will be headlining the main stage on Saturday, September 1.

For more information on the Chicago Jazz Festival, including a complete lineup and transportation information, please call the Mayor's Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3315 or visit on

The Mingus Big Band will close the festival on Sunday, September 2.

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