There is a sound that has filled the city of Chicago with its’ upbeat tempos, infectious melodies played by an extraordinary lineup of talented musicians. Smooth jazz sounds of summer fill the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, drawing listeners into a bebop, syncopated lull, full of revolutionary groove.
Made in Chicago kicked off their summer jazz series with world class jazz Thursday, July 29 at 6:30pm to a full house of dedicated listeners. Millennium Park presents the Chicago jazz sound for the next five weeks every Thursday night, in conjunction with the Jazz Institute of Chicago.
Sultry compositions were played by a high school ensemble who got the show started. Feet began to tap, heads moved and bodies rocked to the awesome notes coming from their instruments. Incredibly, these hip, smooth beats were being played by youngsters with exceptional precision and timing.
This new breed of musicians are part of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, a program incorporated into the Chicago Public Schools to promote jazz music education. The Institute works with music programs from elementary schools to high schools teaching Latin Jazz, Jazz Voice, Jazz for Strings, Jazz Keys Piano Lab, and more. Some of the members of the Jazz Institute will be headed to college and eventually fulfilling careers in music.
Tortoise 2.0, the night’s headliners, followed the Jazz Institute of Chicago Ensemble. Their multi-musically dimensional sound features several different genres: rock, free jazz, electronica, funk, minimalism, and film music. It’s an esoteric jazz groove that has continued to evolve over the past 19 years of the group’s existence.
The avant-garde group, consisting of John Herndon, (vibes), John McEntire, (drums), Jeff Parker, (guitar), Douglas McCombs, (bass), and Dan Bitney on percussion embraced free jazz style for the evening’s performance.
Tortoise 2.0 enlisted the vaunted talents of local Chicago jazz stars, (many who are leaders of their own groups): flautist Nicole Mitchell, alto sax man Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Edward Wilkerson, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and pianist/ARP synthesizerist Jim Baker.
Together, they took jazz improvising to the heights with their highly-charged musical exchanges, allowing each artist an opportunity to stretch the limits of musicality. They pulled everything together at the end of their songs, but only after making a solid jazz statement that left the crowd fascinated and wanting more.
A standing ovation was the audience’s response to an entertaining evening by this jazz conglomeration of artists. Next Thursday Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz 2010 will present a tribute to Mary Lou Williams at 100, featuring Bethany Pickens and Amina Claudine Myers. Showtime happens August 5, at 6:30pm.
Pack a picnic, bring a blanket or chair, and grab a spot on the lawn to chill under the Chicago sky. Come early if you want to experience “in the bowl,” the pavilion stage seating. Admission is free, and the last concert of the series is Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 7:30. See you in the park!
Can you identify these Chicago jazz greats? (Answers are below).
1.They call him “The King of Swing.” 2. He played drums with “The King of Swing,” along with Eddie Condon and Louie Bellson. 3. This artist was known as “The Velvet Fog.” 4. A cornetist, he was one of the originators of Chicago Jazz. 5. Best known for “Watermelon Man,” and “Rockit,” he once gigged with Miles Davis. 6. “The great performer” had hits: “The In Crowd,” and “Hang on Sloopy.” 7. A sax man, considered a founder of the “Chicago School” of jazz tenorists.
For Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz 2010 lineup, information, and directions, go here and here.
Tortoise 2.0 info and music here.
Nicole Mitchell here.
jazzinchicago.org, millenniumpark.org, myspace.com, nicolemitchell.com, chicagojazz.com, bennygoodman.com, drummerman.net, spaceagepop.com, allaboutjazz.com
Answers to Quick Quiz
1. Benny Goodman 2. Gene Krupa 3. Mel Torme 4.Jimmy McPartland 5. Herbie Hancock 6. Ramsey Lewis 7. Von Freeman