Jazz Festival (Aug. 29th through Sept. 1st) Story and photos by Greg Turner
In case you were wondering, I did attend the Chicago Jazz Festival this year, and there was a major change in the festival to report. After its first 34 years in Grant Park, the major part of the festival moved 2 blocks north to
with its main stage, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and its side stages, the Von
Freeman Pavilion, the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion, and the Young Lions Pavilion. Millennium Park
Also, after always staying within walking distance of the park, My wife Donna and I stayed near O’Hare airport and used the train to come downtown via the hotel shuttle. After one day of this we drove into town and found an inexpensive lot, We saved a little money, but we were only able to attend one side stage set, and that was cut short by an incoming thunderstorm.
Musical elders gave us many bright moments at this year’s fest.
saxophonist Geof Bradfield’s tribute to the late trombonist Melba Liston featured
a guest appearance by frequent Liston employee pianist Randy Weston, still an
imposing figure at 87. After 71 year old Wadada Leo Smith’s tribute to the
Civil Rights Movement, Friday evening concluded with saxophonist/flautist Charles Lloyd. Celebrating his 75th year
on the planet and backed by his current working band of young veterans, Lloyd
showed that age hasn’t diminished his fire.
Sometimes even modernists like me like to hear some well played no frills straight ahead jazz, which is what 86 years old Jimmy Heath gave us with his quartet to open Sunday’s Pritzker performances. The great
Chicago pianist Willie
Pickens, still going strong at 82, guested with saxophonist Donald Harrison on
3 selections, including an amazing solo reconstruction of “Giant Steps”
For me the festival’s brightest moment was the electrifying performance of vocalist Gregory Porter. Having seen only part of his “Its Commonly Jazz” performance and having read that some consider him the next great male jazz singer, I was looking forward to seeing the whole set., Working with the same band he had in Cincinnati and singing selections from his 3 releases, Porter earned on of the loudest and longest ovations I’ve ever heard at the fest. His first 2 releases have already earned him Grammy nominations in jazz and R&B (!). I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I didn’t attend any After Fest events this year because I didn’t see any information about them. The Jazz Record Mart’s annual Sunday morning Brunch is always good, but it didn’t offer any surprises like in the past. But I had a great time like I always do and , as always, here are some photos for the readers.
Greg Turner 14 Oct 13