Dee Dee Bridgewater


The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to announce the 37th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival.  The festival will take place in Millennium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street), September 3-6, showcasing the very best of jazz music from noon to 9:30pm daily. Additionally, the festival is partnering once again with Pianoforte Foundation for a three-concert series to kick off Festival Week. The five–concert Neighborhood Nights series line-up will be announced shortly. The FREE admission Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by DCASE and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC).


Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9


Culminating on Labor Day Weekend, the festival’s programming celebrates both the mainstream of the national jazz scene as well as Chicago’s unique contributions to the art form. The Chicago Jazz Festival has historically made a special point of placing its own distinctly Chicago artistic stamp on the musical proceedings. Fittingly this year’s resident artists represents an especially unique local flair.


Jose James


One of the most prolific, idiosyncratic and lasting institutions in 20th century music has been the Association for The Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Founded in 1965, by a collective of artists including Muhal Richard Abrams, the AACM was an outlet for a number of wholly unique musical minds.  Fittingly, one of the most notable headliners of the 37th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival is a very special reunion of AACM’s Experimental Band, led by pianist and composer Muhal Richard Abrams--the band that is commonly thought of as one of the first, if not the first, AACM ensembles.


Muhal Richard Abrams


This special lineup will feature Abrams on piano; alto saxophonist, composer and Mills College professor, Roscoe Mitchell; saxophonist, flutist and composer Henry Threadgill; baritone saxophonist, flutist and composer Wallace McMillan; trumpeter, composer and former California Institute of the Arts professor Wadada Leo Smith; pianist, organist and composer Amina Claudine Myers; trombonist, composer, MacArthur Fellow, AACM historian and Columbia University professor George Lewis; bassist and composer Leonard Jones; drummer, vibraphonist, percussionist and composer Thurman Barker; and drummer and composer Reggie Nicholson. Several of these musicians were integral to the founding of the AACM in 1965.


Billy Strayhorn


Yet the Experimental Band will not be the only AACM act at the festival: long-standing AACM members and musical innovators Steve & Iqua Colson will perform one of their first concerts in Chicago since they relocated to NYC, with a band comprised of AACM Chicago musicians. 

Additionally, Douglas Ewart, a constant sonic seeker since his arrival in Chicago in 1965, will bring his unit Inventions, featuring 9 Chicago musicians, featuring Ewart (winds, vocals & percussion), Dee Alexander (vocals), Edward Wilkerson (saxophone), Jeff Parker (guitar), Dushun Mosley (drums) w/ special guest Darius Savage (bass).                                                      


Festival organizers will honor the centenary of the late composer and arranger William Thomas ‘Billy’ Strayhorn with new arrangements of his iconic repertoire, made famous predominantly by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, here performed by The Chicago Jazz Orchestra under the direction Jeff Lindberg. Featured guest arrangers interpreting Strayhorn's music will include Chicagoans Edward Wilkerson, and trombonist, composer Tom Garling, drummer and composer John Hollenbeck, trumpeter and arranger Steven Bernstein, and Gordon Goodwin.  


The CJF will also be celebrating the centennial of Billie Holiday: rising star vocalist José James --a Minneapolis native who has been noted for melding R&B, singer-songwriter sensibilities with his core jazz training-- will bring his Yesterday I Had the Blues project to the festival, a celebration of Holiday’s music.


This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and CJF, DCASE and JIC are proud to recognize this civil rights milestone and promote full inclusion of people with disabilities by partnering with ADA 25 Chicago to present New Orleanian pianist Henry Butler with slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9. The debut recording by this frolicking bluesy New Orleans second line band, Viper's Drag, recently revived the legendary Impulse! Records label, which had been dormant for at least a decade. In conjunction with this ADA celebration, the CJF is proud to host one of jazz's true elder statesmen, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, a true fixture on a number of jazz's most seminal albums, who has been battling acute emphysema, but performing at top level despite his disability.


This year the Chicago Jazz Festival will bring a wide array of nationally regarded talent: saxophonist Mark Turner, whose most recent album Lathe of Heaven (ECM) was acclaimed as one of the best records of 2014; the Craig Taborn Trio, whose 2013 release Chants (ECM) was met with universal celebration; The Claudia Quintet, drummer/composer John Hollenbeck’s unclassifiable brainchild with a surprise special guest: vocalist Cyrille Aimée, who has charmed international audiences; and saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett with her all-Cuban band Maqueque.


Chicago has produced a host of incredible straight-ahead, and well regarded  jazz talent who will be featured at the festival: Guggenheim Fellow pianist Ryan Cohan; saxophonist Chico Freeman (son of Chicago legend, Von Freeman) who will be performing with his uncle, guitarist George Freeman;  Chicago-native and 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition winner, trumpeter Marquis Hill; acclaimed Chicago-based drummer and  genre-bender Makaya McCraven; revered pianist Willie Pickens with his daughter and protege Bethany; NYC transplant, pianist Ben Waltzer; and Robert Irving III’s Generations band, which will feature some of Chicago’s youngest and brightest musicians. Accomplished trumpeter and Chicago native Art Hoyle will be paying tribute to one of Jazz’s most universally beloved figures, the recently departed trumpeter Clark Terry.

 Yet as the AACM evidences, the city of Chicago has also long been a hubfor experimentation. That lineage has been extended by many of the city’s avant garde practitioners who will be featured at the festival: bassist Jason Roebke’s Octet (which is flooded with some of Chicago’s most lauded new voices); guitarist Jeff Parker, who for decades was one of Chicago’s most forward looking musicians, before relocating to Los Angeles; and guitarist Andrew Trim’s Hanami Quartet.


Aside from the acclaimed talent, the Chicago Jazz Festival has often been heralded for its inclusion of emerging Chicago musicians, giving them broader exposure than they would otherwise have. Some of these include rising star saxophonist Rajiv Halim, trumpeter James Davis and his group Beveled, drummer Jeremy Cunningham, Brazilian singer Neusa Sauer and legendary pianist Bob Dogan.


 Pre-Festival PianoForte Series: 

Sept 1 - Kim Cusack & Paul Asaro


Sept 2 - Bethany & Willie Pickens


Sept 3 - Rob Clearfield

Festival Lineup



Claudia Cassidy Theater


12:15-1:15pm - Andrew Trim's Hanami Quartet


1:45-2:45pm - Lucy Smith 


3:15-4:15pm- "What's This Thing Called Jazz?" From Mainstream to AACM and Beyond w/ Dee Alexander and Miguel de la Cerna 


Preston Bradley Hall


12:30 - 1:30pm - Ben Waltzer


2-3pm- James Davis Beveled 


Jay Pritzker Pavilion 


6:30 - 7:30pm - Marquis Hill Blacktet


8-9pm - Henry Butler / Steven Bernstein & Hot 9




Von Freeman Pavilion:


12-12:55pm - Rajiv Halim Quintet

1:10 - 2:05 pm - Jeremy Cunningham Quartet

2:30 - 3:15 pm - Neusa Sauer 

3:30 - 4:30 pm - Craig Taborn Trio


Jazz & Heritage Pavilion


12:30 - 1:30 pm - Spin Quartet

2- 3pm - Art Hoyle Sextet: Clark Terry Tribute

3:30-4:40pm - Bobby Lewis Sextet


Jay Pritzker Pavilion


5-5:50pm - Chico Freeman: Chicago Project featuring George Freeman

6-6:55pm - José James - Billie Holiday Tribute

7:10-8:10pm - Bobby Hutcherson Quintet

8:30-9:30pm - Billy Strayhorn Tribute w/ Chicago Jazz Orchestra playing Arrangments of Strayhorn Songs By Edward Wilkerson, John Hollenbeck, Steven Bernstein, Gordon Goodwin




Von Freeman Pavilion


12-12:55pm - Trio WAZ

1:10-2:05pm - Mike Schlick Trio

2:20-3:15pm - Brian Gephart Sextet

3:30-4:30pm - Ryan Cohan Quartet featuring Joe Locke


Jazz & Heritage Pavilion


12:30 - 1:30pm - Makaya McCraven Quartet

2:00 - 3:00pm - Juan Pastor's Chinchano

3:30 - 4:40pm - Jason Roebke Octet


Jay Pritzker Pavilion


5-5:50pm - Douglas Ewart and Inventions

6-6:55pm - The Claudia Quintet w/ Theo Bleckmann

7:10-8:10pm - Mark Turner Quartet

8:30-9:30pm - Dee Dee Bridgewater 




Von Freeman Pavilion


12-12:55pm - Jordan Baskin Trio

1:10-2:05pm - Elain Dame

2:20-3:15pm - Ryan Shultz Quartet

3:30-4:30pm - Robert Irving III Generations


Jazz & Heritage Pavilion


12:30-1:30pm - Bob Dogan Quintet

2:00-3:00pm - Bill McFarland Chicago Horns

3:30-4:40pm - Steve & Iqua Colson...40 Years in the Movement


Jay Pritzker Pavilion


5-5:50pm - Jeff Parker Trio

6:6:55pm - Jane Bunnett & Manqueque

7:10 - 8:10pm - Cyrille Aimee

8:30-9:30pm - Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band with Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Leonard Jones, Wallace McMillan, Reggie Nicholson)


Also-- Don't miss the Neighborhood Nights of jazz throughout the city--


Chicago Latin Jazz Festival - July 17th & 18th:
Humboldt Park

Friday July 17
7PM - Samuel Del Real Orchestra, Featuring Original Arrangements of Traditional Music from His Native Colombia
8PM - Roy McGrath Quintet 
9PM - Papo Vasquez' Mighty Pirate Troubadours (from NYC)

Saturday July 18 afternoon:
1:30 PM -  Laruni Hati Garifuna Group (from Belize)
2:30 PM - Chicago Mariachi Project
3:30 PM - Chicago Cuatro Orchestra

Evening sets:
5:30 PM - Jose Valdes Orchestra
6:30 PM - Charangeo Orchestra
7:30 PM - Victor Garcia Ensemble with Bluesman Billy Branch

August 8 - Ari Brown -  5PM - 7PM
Senn High School
5900 W. Glenwood

Ari Brown - saxophone; Kirk Brown - piano; Yosef Ben Israel, bass; Dr Cuz - percussion
Avreeayl Ra - drums

August 15 - Teddy Thomas Sextet- 6pm - 8 pm
Garfield Park Conservatory
300 N. Central Park

Teddy Thomas - vocalist; Victor Goines - saxophone; Mike Allemana - guitar; Roger Harris - piano; Matt Ferguson - bass; Greg Artry - drums

August 22 - Matt Ulery’s Loom- 5pm - 7 PM
Logan Square Roundabout
3200 W. Logan Blvd.

Matt Ulery, bass; Rob Clearfield, piano; Jon Deitemyer, drums; Geof Bradfield, reeds; Marquis Hill, trumpet







Photos courtesy of Chicago Jazz Festival 


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