CareFusion drops jazz fest sponsorships

CareFusion, a global corp. specializing in hospital equipment, has ended its two-year sponsorship of George Wein's New York Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival, a day after reporting the retirement of its Chairman and CEO David L. Schlotterbeck, and the first quarter financials of its 2010 fiscal year. The company announced steep revenue losses and plans to cut 5% of its workforce last August; in October, CareFusion recalled 17,000 Alaris PC infusion units, cited by the FDA as a product the use … [Read more...]

Mayor Daley’s music and arts

Shocking news from Chicago: Richard Daley won't be mayor for life. Yet he's the Windy City's most significant patron of culture, leaving a legacy that ought to -- that is, should, and might -- survive him. Which was unexpected when he succeeded Mayor Harold Washington in 1989, but clear from my visit to Labor Day weekend's 32nd annual Chicago Jazz Festival. … [Read more...]

Little known great jazz in Chicago’s neighborhoods

The Jazz Institute of Chicago's annual club tour is an urban presentation innovation and a treat, revealing an unheralded depth of local audiences, entrepreneurs and artists. On Wednesday night, Dudley Owens blew tenor sax with the largest sound I've heard maybe ever, in combo with an older pianist (sorry I didn't get his name) who played as no one ever told him he couldn't, turning the keyboard inside-out. They completely refreshed the Billie Holiday standard "All of Me" at a friendly, funky hangout called City Life Cocktail Lounge on East … [Read more...]

Best American city for jazz? Chicago

I'm a Chicago homie -- long removed but never really gone -- so don't expect objectivity, but a recent visit proved my native metropolis is #1 in America and maybe everywhere for its active, creative, meaningful, almost-economically-viable, neighborhood-rooted, exploratory and world class jazz. I say this even as my dearly adopted New York City kickstarts as freshly energized a fall season as any I recall.Jazz is the lifeblood of Chicago in a way it ain't in NYC, at least not right now. Jazz-soul-blues is Chicago's street music. Chicago's … [Read more...]

#jazzlives weekend update: 12-day count of tweeting fans

Buzz about who played live jazz where marked with the hashtage #jazzlives flew throughout cyberspace this weekend  -- catch it all here. The impromptu campaign produced anecdotal evidence that a young and vigorous audience for America's modern vernacular creative music does indeed exist, spreading enthusiastic word via the social network Twitter of sets at Chicago, Tanglewood, Los Angeles (x2), Detroit and Stevens Point (Wisconsin) jazz festivals and gigs in New York, Tokyo, etc,. far and wide. … [Read more...]

Jazz health, bright moments

All is not dismal in Jazzville: Producer George Wein has found a title sponsor -- CareFusion -- for his jazz festivals in Newport next month and New York City summer 2010. SFJazz has announced a stellar lineup including Ornette Coleman for its fall fest, Oct. 10 - Nov. 21. As Mitch Myers reports from the 13-day 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, diversity, provided by living legends and genuinely engaging younger talents, is the key. As James Hale reported from the just ended 11-day-long Ottawa Jazz Festival (as which he … [Read more...]

Domino effect of JVC Jazz Fest failure on Jazz Times?

New speculation on the jazz magazine crisis: Having no summer advertorial supplements for JVC Jazz Festivals (which aren't happening) may have hugely hurt JT's seasonal revenues. How could the loss of three consecutive monthly multi-page inserts, all expenses paid for by the client, not shake a publication's income stream?Complete disclosure: I edited the JVC Jazz Festival program books in the 1990s, when they were inserts into Tower Records' free monthly magazine Pulse!, and for a year when JVC America, responsible for the Japanese owned … [Read more...]

Chicago hears Ornette Coleman — This is our music

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 listeners of all ages, genders, races, religions -- Americans and visitors from abroad, too -- enjoyed the directly expressive, highly personalized music of Pulitzer Prize-winner Ornette Coleman as the finale of the outdoor Chicago Jazz Festival last Sunday night. The attentive, mellow and celebratory audience response, including a standing ovation throughout the 5000 seats nearest the bandshell in Grant Park, suggested that improvisation created without a priori conventions or artificial constraints, which Coleman … [Read more...]

Benefits of aficionado-programmed fests

The best thing about the Chicago Jazz Festival is that it's curated by an independent committee of people (mostly from the Jazz Institute of Chicago) who really love music, rather than being overly influenced by promoters, booking agents and managers representing a few big name artists who are trying to fill blank dates during their big tours. Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater's  first-time ever tribute to the late Betty Carter, her mentor, electrified the crowd at Grant Park Friday night -- after drummer Thurman Barker led a brilliant set by … [Read more...]

Sonny Rollins in Chicago

Sonny Rollins at 78 is still a saxophone collosus, as he demonstrated leading his touring sextet Thursday night to open the Chicago Jazz Festival. His bent posture, shock of white hair and strong features give him the air of an Old Testament prophet, and his stamina may not be all it was when he was younger, but he brought wisdom, humor and intensity to an upbeat and swinging rendition of Irving Berlin's "Falling In Love Is Wonderful," sweet warmth  to Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood" (backed only by his rhythm section), and for a finale … [Read more...]

Chicago jazz fest in neighborhood clubs

A city's jazz scene is best measured not by an annual festival -- though Sonny Rollins free at the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago's Millennium Park on Thursday night was a fine thing. The real signs of Chicago's jazz depth and diversity are evident in the unique "club tour" (aka pub crawl), which the Jazz Institute of Chicago cleverly designs to introduce listeners to local musicians playing small venues way outside the downtown Loop. … [Read more...]

Jazz fests of August

Free jazz fests across the U.S. mark summer's glorious end. Manhattan's Charlie Parker festival (held Saturday Aug. 23 and Sunday 24 in Marcus Garvey park uptown and Tompkins Square Park downtown), the Chicago Jazz Festival (which formally starts Thursday Aug 28 with Sonny Rollins at downtown Grant Park's Petrillo bandshell) and the Detroit International Jazz Festival (celebrating Detroit-Philadelphia music connections, Aug 29 - Sept. 1 on multiple stages along the river at Hart Plaza and down the street at Campus Martius Park) and smaller … [Read more...]