Chicago Jazz Festival Announces New NextGenJazz Stage for 2016

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For the 8th consecutive year, The Chicago Community Trust Jazz on the Rooftop stage will be a part of the Chicago Jazz Festival at the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace in Millennium Park on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4. Presented by The Chicago Community Trust, the Jazz on the Rooftop stage aims to showcase up-and-coming Chicago native jazz musicians alongside the notable regional and national touring acts that attract nearly 150,000 jazz fans. This year, the festival is pleased to present Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Jazz Links alumni saxophonist John Foster-Brooks, pianist Alexis Lombre, vibraphonist Joel Ross and the Hanging Hearts among the next generation of Chicago jazz greats.

The Chicago Community Trust Rooftop Jazz performances start September 3rd with a showcase of “Young Jazz Lions” featuring some of the most dedicated elementary and high school bands including the Lenart Regional Gifted and Harold Washington Elementary School Jazz Combos, the Jones College Prep Jazz Combo, the Whitney Young Magnet High School Jazz Combo, the Curie High School Jazz Ensemble, the Pritzker High School Jazz Ensemble, and the Kenwood High School Jazz Ensemble. Performances run from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Rooftop performances continue Sunday September 4th, for the first time featuring this year’s four NextGen Jazz artists, starting with young pianist Alexis Lombre at 11:30 a.m. From an early age, Lombre has enveloped herself in programs sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Her Chicago Jazz Festival debut was made in 2013 when Lombre performed a solo rendition of the National Anthem opening the main stage for the final day of the 35th Annual run. As bandleader of The Alexis Lombre Trio/Quartet, she has also performed around Chicago in the city’s “Made in Chicago Jazz Series,” Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Bucktown Art Festival’s New Jazz Roots Stage, Hyde Park Jazz Society’s Sundays at Room 43, the Trinity UCC Jazzapalooza Jazz Festival, the University of Chicago’s David & Reva Logan Center for the Arts’ Third Tuesday Jazz Series and, in the “Charles Heath Presents: Jazzin on the SouthSide” series.

The Sunday showcase continues at 12:50 p.m. with vibraphonist Joel Ross and his band Good Vibes. Ross has performed with artists including Herbie Hancock, Louis Hayes, Christian McBride, Stefon Harris, Gerald Clayton and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, among other notable acts. He has been selected twice as a Thelonious Monk Institute National All-Star and a YoungArts Jazz finalist in 2013. Currently, Ross resides in New York City where he studies under the direction of Harris at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Ross’s group, Good Vibes, will feature Jeremy Corren on piano, Benjamin Tiberio on bass, and Jalon Archie on drums.

The Chicago-based trio dedicated to rock energy and fearless exploratory improvisation, known by the name of Hanging Hearts, will perform on the Rooftop stage at 2:10 p.m. Critics praise the group for “hammering the walls between genre,” as their music bridges the gap between jazz, rock, and experimental music. The band features Chris Weller on tenor saxophone, Cole DeGenova on keyboards and Devin Drobka on drums. Weller and DeGenova grew up in Chicago, playing in notable local jazz and blues clubs by the age of 15. The trio was completed when the two met Drobka at Berklee College of Music. Members of the group have performed around the world and shared the stage with Joe Lovano, Jerry Bergonzi, Greg Osby, Tony Malaby, Tower of Power, Lettuce, Kurt Elling, Snarky Puppy, Lupe Fiasco, Greg Ward, Tim Daisy and Dave Rempis, among others. Notable performances as a band include the Jazzinec Festival in the Czech Republic and Nádasdy Castle in Sárvár, Hungary. Currently, the band is working on a new record with Dave King, drummer of The Bad Plus.

Tenor saxophonist, composer, and leader John Foster-Brooks closes the NextGenJazz portion at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. At just 24 years of age Foster-Brooks has been privileged enough to study with jazz legends including Ari Brown, Dayna Stephens, Yosvany Terry, Marcus Strickland and Bobby Sanabria. Foster-Brooks has graced stages of notable music festivals including Sacana Jazz Festival, Santanna Arresi Jazz Festival in Italy, and many more, including the Chicago Jazz Festival. In 2009,  he debuted his first big-band, “Foster Meets Brooks Big Band,” a 15-piece ensemble which he was able to showcase in New York City in the year 2011. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Foster-Brooks began playing the tenor saxophone in elementary school.

See below for full schedule and be sure to check out the up-and-coming jazz musicians featured at this year’s festival!



Young Jazz Lions

  • 11:30 a.m. – noon- Lenart Regional Gifted and Harold Washington Elementary School Jazz Combos
  • 12:15 – 12:45 p.m.-Jones College Prep Jazz Combo
  • 1 – 1:30 p.m.-Whitney Young Magnet High School Jazz Combo
  • 2 – 2:40 p.m.-Curie High School Jazz Ensemble
  • 2:55 – 3:35 p.m.-Pritzker High School Jazz Ensemble
  • 3:50 – 4:30 p.m.-Kenwood Academy Jazz Ensemble


NextGen Jazz  

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.- Alexis Lombre Quintet
  • 12:50-1:50 p.m.-Joel Ross’ Good Vibes
  • 2:10-3 :10 p.m.-Hanging Hearts
  • 3:30-4 :30 p.m.-Foster Meets Brooks Big Band

About Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs And Special Events:
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

About Jazz Institute of Chicago:
Founded in 1969, the not for profit Jazz Institute of Chicago has programmed the Chicago Jazz Festival in partnership with the City of Chicago since the festival began in 1979. The organization’s mission to promote and nurture jazz in Chicago is carried out by providing jazz education for youth and adults, supporting the creation of new work by Chicago jazz musicians; growing the audience for jazz by presenting programs that are free and available for all and fostering a thriving jazz community.

The Chicago Jazz Festival is sponsored in part by American Airlines, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Communications Direct, Downbeat Magazine, Stella Artois and WGN-TV.

For the latest information on the Chicago Jazz Festival, visit, like us on Facebook at Chicago Jazz Festival and follow us on Twitter (@ChicagoDCASE, @ChiJazzFest, #ChiJazzFest).

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