Chicago Jazz Fest highlights a la PoKempner-vision


Cecile McClorin Salvant @ the 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival. Photo by Marc PoKempner

No one was shot at any jazz festivals held throughout the U.S. over Labor Day weekend, unless artists and audiences captured by photography count.

Marc PoKempner was among the expert photogs creating views of the sounds at the 36th annual Chicago Jazz Festival. Marc is especially good incorporating into his compositions the huge video image projected behind artists on the stage of the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion.

Some fest highlights he depicts: Cecile McClorin Salvant, as powerful an actress as she is nuanced a singer, making each song a highly charged story.

The Sun Ra Arkestra led by nonagenarian alto sax sprite Marshall Allen, performing its wild and wooly show  with a not-entirely-goofy cosmic message.


The Sun Ra Arkestra @ the 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival. Marshall Allen in foreground, red cape. Photo by Marc PoKempner












Composer Ernest Dawkins conducting a big band through an original suite in tribute to Nelson Mandela.



Ernest Dawkins conducts big band with singer Dee Alexander in a tribute to Mandela. Photo by Marc PoKempner

I had some issues with Dawkins’ work; it could have benefited from an editor, and didn’t seem to me to take full advantage of singer Dee Alexander. But the comfortably integrated, neighborly, Chicago-representative crowd filling the seats and surrounding grasses were patient with declamations of the atrocities practiced under apartheid and moved by Dawkins’ South African-referent rhythms).

There were many other exciting performances at this fest, which ran Thursday through Sunday — I’ll mention just one (hoping still for more photos): Kevin Eubanks setting loose skeins of hot guitar licks to rock out bassist Dave Holland’s quartet Prism (Craig Taborn on both grand and Fender piano and drummer Eric Harland plus Holland himself provided solid counterweights, a la Miles Davis electric circa 1970.

Ok, more: pianist Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, bassist Rufus Reid‘s solid post-bop, trumpeter Terence Blanchard authoritative with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and guitarist Lionel Loeke; Chicago post-Trane saxist Ari Brown, king of cool vibes Gary Burton with his New Quartet; trumpeter Tom Harrell’s impressionistic Colors of a Dream ensemble; electric guitarist Bobby Broom‘s crisp trio; alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon‘s no-nonsense quartet with pianist Luis Perdomo. And I missed much more.


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