Jazz Jammin' Grand Park Festival Pays Tribute to Chicago Musicians

By Zalusky, Steve | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

Jazz Jammin' Grand Park Festival Pays Tribute to Chicago Musicians


Zalusky, Steve, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Steve Zalusky Daily Herald Staff Writer

The phrase "Chicago Jazz" used to serve as shorthand for a style of music played in the 1920s by King Oliver and Louis Armstrong and later appropriated by such jazz musicians as Bud Freeman and Jimmy McPartland.

Just put a trumpet, clarinet and trombone together, back them with a rhythm section, stir the ingredients and let it cook for three minutes.

In reality, Chicago has functioned as an incubator for a variety of artists mining myriad styles.

Earl Hines, the Ammons family, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman, Eddie Harris and Fred Anderson are among those whose paths led through Chicago.

Even now, such artists as multireedmeister Ken Vandermark are laying new ground.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and this is no less true of its jazz than of its politics. Venues like the Jazz Showcase, the Empty Bottle, the HotHouse and the Velvet Lounge present an array of styles as diverse as the city's wards.

This year's Chicago Jazz Festival, which begins Thursday, is a chance to sample them all. Opening night events will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall and the Symphony Center. At 8 p.m. the Branford Marsalis Quartet and the Jazz Messenger Alumni All-Stars take the Symphony Center stage in "The Message Lives: A Tribute to Art Blakey." The rest of the weekend's activities will take place in Grant Park.

"This being the 25th festival, we thought that it would be important to emphasize a lot of Chicago musicians," said Art Lange, chairman of the festival's programming committee.

Festival organizers have chosen several ways to do this, including a "Jammin' at the Petrillo: Chicago Style" set that will mirror the concept of Jazz at the Philharmonic introduced by Norman Granz in Los Angeles in the 1940s. The jam session, which takes place at the Petrillo Music Shell at 7:10 p.m. Aug. 29, will feature such musicians as saxophonists Ira Sullivan and Bunky Green and pianist Stu Katz.

In addition, the Jazz on Jackson stage will be filled with a parade of diverse Chicago acts, among them the Chicago Latin Jazz All-Stars; saxophonist/pianist Ari Brown; pianist Laurence Hobgood; composer, educator and multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell; ragtime pianist and composer Reginald Robinson; veteran pianist Jodie Christian; and blues harmonica virtuoso Lurrie Bell.

A heavy Chicago tinge will fill the Petrillo shell throughout the weekend. At 6 p.m. Friday Mitchell will perform with a big band. In the 1960s, Mitchell was a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago as well as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, organizations representing the vanguard of experimental music in the 1960s.

A good example of the kind of challenge Mitchell's music poses to the ear can be heard in "Song For My Sister," by Roscoe Mitchell & the Note Factory, a 2002 recording on the Pi label. The second side, "Sagitta," takes the listener on a wild ride replete with hairpin turns and near-misses. …

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