Chicago Jazz Festival 2008

30th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, August 28-31, 2008 in Millennium Park and Grant Park The Mayor's Office of Special Events has announced some of the headliners for this year's Jazz Fest.

Thursday, August 28: Saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins opens the festival at 6:30 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. One of the pioneers of bebop in the '50s, Rollins is still an inspiration to many jazz artists around the world.

Sunday, August 31: Ornette Coleman, widely known as the creator of "free jazz," will bring his improvisatory saxophone skills to the Petrillo Music Shell as he closes out the festival on Saturday night. Though he's been on the scene for about a half-century, he hasn't lost creative flair; last year's Sound Grammar won a Grammy.

Thursday, August 28:

Millennium Park – Pritzker Pavilion
6:30 p.m. Sonny Rollins

Friday, August 29th:

Jazz on Jackson
12:00-12:55 Isotope 217
1:10-2:05 Jazz Guitar Summit featuring Curtis Robinson, John Moulder, Jeff Parker, Buddy Fambro, Robert Shy and Josh Abrams
2:20-3:15 Alison Ruble Quartet
3:30-4:30 “Jazz has the Blues” featuring George Freeman and Billy Branch, Ari Brown and Corey Wilkes

Jazz & Heritage Stage
12:30-1:30 Kenwood Academy Jazz Band - High School Big Band Composer Residency with Nicole Mitchell
2:00-3:00 “History of Jazz” with Ron Perillo
3:30-4:30 “Jimmy’s Jam Session” featuring Curtis Black Quartet plus Ahmad Salaheldeen, Edward House and Zaid Krisberg

5:00-5:50 T.S. Galloway’s Tribute to Capt. Walter Dyett featuring Julian Priester, Ari Brown, Mwata Bowden, Ken Chaney, and Edwin Daugherty
6:00-6:55 AACM Tribute featuring Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Amina Claudine Myers, Michael Logan and Thurman Barker
7:10-8:10 Dee Dee Bridgewater Tribute to Betty Carter with Mulgrew Miller, Ira Coleman and Kenny Washington
8:30-9:30 Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band

Saturday, August 30
Jazz on Jackson
12:00-12:55 Jo Ann Daugherty Quartet
1:10-2:10 Chicago Bass Masters featuring Larry Gray, Harrison Bankhead, Robert Irving III, Charles Heath, Art Hoyle and Edward Wilkerson
2:20–3:15 John Wright Quartet
3:30-4:30 Larry Gray, Willie Pickens and Joel Spencer

Jazz & Heritage Stage
12:30-1:30 James Sanders’ Conjunto
2:00-3:00 “Percussion Discussion” with Thurman Barker
3:30-4:30 Walter Dyett: Remembering a Jazz Warrior

4:30-4:45 Remembering Franz Jackson: Eric Schneider, Art Hoyle, Tom Hope, Dan Delorenzo and Robert Cousins
5:00-5:50 Pharez Whitted Sextet
6:00-6:55 Vijay Iyer Quintet (commissioned piece debut)
7:10-8:10 Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy (commissioned piece debut)
8:30-9:30 Gerald Wilson Orchestra (commissioned piece debut)

Sunday, August 31
Jazz on Jackson
12:00-12:55 Frank D’Rone Quartet
1:10-2:10 “Chicago Keys” with – Bob Dogan and Jim Trompeter
2:20-3:15 Josh Berman and His Gang
3:30-4:30 Sean Jones Sextet

Jazz & Heritage Stage
12:30-1:30 Vijay Iyer: Composer Talk
2:00-3:00 “Art of the Solo” featuring Julian Priester and Jimmy Bennington
3:30-4:30 Karl Montzka Quartet

5:00-5:50 Ron Dewar Quintet
6:00-6:55 From the Netherlands: Instant Composers Pool
7:10-8:10 Eight Bold Souls with Special Appearance by Dee Alexander
8:30-9:30 Ornette Coleman

*Friday through Sunday, don’t miss the New Orleans All-Star Brass Band performing at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Jackson Boulevard between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive.

The 20th and 25th birthdays of the Chicago Jazz Festival passed without much hoopla, but for its 30th the Jazz Institute of Chicago has assembled the strongest fest lineup in many years, bookended by sets from two of the last bona fide living legends in jazz, Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman. The festival has also commissioned work from four important envelope-pushing artists—trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Vijay Iyer, bandleader Gerald Wilson, and trombonist T.S. Galloway—and Galloway’s piece, an homage to educator Walter Dyett, is a welcome change from the usual ad hoc tribute bands.

Other highlights include the venerable ICP Orchestra—one of Europe’s best and most compelling ensembles—and top-notch Latin jazzman Eddie Palmieri. As usual there’s a healthy local contingent too, covering a wide range of styles and eras; among them is the festival’s artist-in-residence, reedist and composer Edward Wilkerson Jr., one of the greatest talents to emerge from Chicago in the past three decades. He’s kept an unfortunately low profile lately—performances by his groups 8 Bold Souls, Frequency, and the Shadow Vignettes are increasingly rare—but he’ll be onstage twice this weekend, Saturday as part of the Chicago Bass Masters tribute and Sunday with the Souls and superb local vocalist Dee Alexander.

Aside from the high quality of the bookings, perhaps the most noteworthy development this year is the incorporation of Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park as a Jazz Fest venue. Since 2003 the festival has opened with a Thursday-night ticketed event at Symphony Center, but for ’08 that’s been replaced with a free concert by Rollins at the Pritzker, the city’s best (and best-sounding) outdoor venue. Friday through Sunday the headliners play at the Petrillo Music Shell as usual, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

All the other action is in Grant Park as well, and as always the music is free. Afternoon sets are at the Jazz on Jackson stage (on Jackson near Lake Shore Drive) and the Jazz & Heritage Stage (south of Jackson near the Rose Garden), where the programming includes family-oriented shows and concert-demonstrations. Friday through Sunday the New Orleans All-Star Brass Band—a group assembled especially for the fest from members of several Crescent City outfits, including the Pin Stripe, Paulin Brothers, and New Birth brass bands—plays two sets on Jackson between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive, one at 11 AM and the other at 4 PM. The Petrillo is at Columbus and Jackson, and after the music ends at the lakefront, there’s more on offer around town every night.