A favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition celebrating both the mainstream of the national jazz scene as well as Chicago’s unique contributions to the art form, the 36thAnnual Chicago Jazz Festival will be presented Aug. 28-Aug. 31, 2014 inMillennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center.
This year’s headliners include trumpeter and noted film music composer Terence Blanchard, vibraphonist and jazz education pioneer Gary Burton, Miles Davis alumnus bassist Dave Holland and his all star fusion band Prism featuring three of modern jazz’s leading lights – Craig Taborn, guitarist Kevin Eubanks (formerly of The Tonight Show Band) and drummer Eric Harland, jazz’s most celebrated new straight-ahead singer in years (and rightly so), Cécile McLorint Salvant, Chicago native and bassist Rufus Reid, trumpeter and now elder statesman and noted mentor Tom Harrell leads a new band,Colors of a Dream featuring jazz’s biggest breakout crossover star of the last decade, Esperanza Spaulding. Finally, the Sun Ra Arkestra celebrates the centennial of Ra’s “arrival” on planet Earth from Saturn.
The Chicago Jazz Festival differentiates itself from other American jazz festivals largely based on a history of putting its own regional stamp on the artistic proceedings. This is particularly true given the city’s deep roots in the history of jazz from Louis Armstrong to Muhal Richard Abrams to the late Von Freeman and Fred Anderson to today’s stars Ken Vandermark, Dana Hall, Mike Reed, Dave Rempis and many more. Historically incorporating artists affiliated with the Chicago-founded Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as well as the city’s straight-ahead and world-influenced artists, the Chicago Jazz Festival takes an annual stock of what makes Chicago such an amazing international destination for jazz year-round.
Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by theJazz Institute of Chicago, the free admission Chicago Jazz Festival festival will officially open with a Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Chicago composer Ernest Dawkins. The Millennium Park performance of Dawkins’ Afro Jazz Opera will also be the final concert in this year’s Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series. The Sun Ra Arkestra, celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its founder, a Chicago legend, will close out the Chicago Jazz Festival. This is the event’s second year in the glorious setting of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The festivities will mark the 45th anniversary of the JazzInstitute.