Chicago jazz fest: taking audiences into neighborhoods

The Chicago Jazz Festival began Wednesday night with a club tour — busses the Chicago Trolley Company’s open-air vehicles carting hundreds of ticket-holders on interlocking routes stopping at music-rooms throughout town. Of five venues on the South Side, City Life Cocktail Lounge was my favorite. Singer June Yvon has held a weekly gig there for 19 years, and delivers bluesy, swinging, funky standards such as “What A Difference A Day Makes”  a hit for both Dinah Washington and Esther Phillips, with experienced conviction, scatting and dramatizing the lyrics, too. I video-taped her and plan to produce an eyeJAZZ clip, but my friend Marc PoKempner‘s photo captures the tone of the place and her set. Click on the image to see it large.

Tonight (Friday) in downtown Millenium Park: guitarist Bobby Broom with organist Chris Forman in a band that plays regularly at the Green Mill, featuring guest alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, followed by the Saxophone Summit of Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman and Ravi Coltrane. Saturday and Sunday afternoons, local stars who have world-class talent (ragtime composer Reginald Robinson, hard-edged alto saxophonist Edward Dawkins — pictured at left — and trumpeter Orbert Davis in several configurations) perform near sparkling Buckingham Fountain.

Come evening the action moves across the Jackson Street to the Petrillo bandshell, for bills headlined by Cassandra Wilson (trumpeter Maurice Brown, Trio 3 + Geri Allen, Obert’s Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble), and Roy Hargrove (drummer Mike Reed’s Myth/Science Assembly, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan’s 80th birthday celebration, tenor saxist David Sanchez w/vibist Stefon Harris). If you’re in the area and dig jazz, this free festival is where you want to be. If you’re not, get to one of the other couple dozen jazz events across the U.S. this weekend (and please please please Tweet about WHO you heard and WHERE you heard them, using #jazzlives).
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  1. says

    So glad to see you on the tour Howard–it was a blast! But for the past several years we have upgraded to TROLLEYS, thanks to the sponsorship of the Chicago Trolley Company. A far cry from the old yellow school bus days and a major improvement to the Jazz Club Tour experience.