2012 Headliners Announced!

It’s never too soon to make plans for Labor Day when the holiday weekend includes the free admission Chicago Jazz Festival and headline talent such as Roy HaynesDianne Reeves and Allen Toussaint.

One of the last remaining inventors of bebop, veteran Jazz drummer Roy Haynes has enjoyed collaborations with noted jazz artists such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane and contemporary stars such as Chick Corea and Pat Metheny.  The octogenarian and native of Boston was recently recognized by his peers with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy®.  He performs Friday evening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park with his aptly named Fountain of Youth featuring Jaleel Shaw (Saxophone), David Wong (Bassist) and Martin Bejerano (Piano).  Music begins at 6:30 p.m.

The festival moves to its longtime home in Grant Park with its four stages of free performances. Saturday evening’s headliner beginning at 8:30 p.m. is vocalist Dianne Reeves. The four-time Grammy winner is the only singer to win the vocal category for three consecutive recordings in any singing category.  Her last win was for the soundtrack to George Clooney’s film Good Night and Good Luck, in which she also appeared.  Reeves has been touring the world in the last couple years including two stops at the White House, once for a State Dinner and earlier this year at the Governor’s Ball.

Closing out the festival on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. is Allen Toussaint’s “The Bright Mississippi” featuring Marc Robot and Don Byron.  The New Orleans native grew up in a shotgun house learning his piano style at a young age and inspired by some of greats including Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Huey” Piano” Smith.  His first break would come at age 17 filling in for Smith at a gig.

Toussaint’s career took off not long after writing and producing hits such as “Mother-in- Law” for Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey’s “Ya Ya” and many more for Irma Thomas creating the New Orleans R&B sound.  His collection of songs has been covered by a wide-range of musical artists that include Glen Campbell, Devo, the Pointer Sisters and the Rolling Stones.  His collaboration with Elvis Costello on The River in Reverse was recorded in New Orleans in one of the first major studio session in the Crescent City post-Hurricane Katrina.

The set will focus on Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi, the pianist’s triumphant tribute to the New Orleans sound and musicians that influenced his career.  Joining him on stage and also featured on the album are guitarist Marc Ribot who has performed with Tom Waits, Solomon Burke and Robert Plant; and jazz clarinetist Don Byron who has spent two decades developing an astounding range of musical contexts.

The festival opens on Thursday, August 30 in Millennium Park at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with the previously announced final performance of the Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series, Exquisitely For Ella: A Songbook Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald: Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra.  Chicago vocalists Dee Alexander, Frieda Lee and Spider Saloff celebrate Ella’s 95th Birthday with original arrangements of music by Gershwin, Kern, Ellington, Arlen, Mercer, Berlin, Porter, and Jobim from the legendary Songbook recordings Ella made in the 1950s.

Also previously announced is the festival Artist in Residence Ken Vandermark who performs four different times throughout the event.  A complete schedule including musical performances at the Chicago Cultural Center will be available by June 1.

If Labor Day weekend is too long of a wait, music fans may enjoy pre-festival events with the Chicago Jazz Festival: Neighborhood Nights.  The 6th Annual JazzCity Latin Jazz Festival features Inspiracion Latina with Paoli Mejias in Humboldt Park on July 13.  Concerts are planned for the Carter Woodson Library (9525 S. Halsted) with Geof Bradfield’s Melba Liston Project at 1 p.m.  on July 21, Magic Carpet at the Garfield Park Conservatory at 6 p.m. on July 28, and the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W. 19th) showcases the Bethany Pickens band at 6 p.m. on August 17.

In partnership with the Chicago Jazz Festival, The Old Town School of Folk Music will present a Sunday evening Jazz series beginning July 29 through August 26 at 6:30 p.m. in Szold Hall (4544 N. Lincoln Avenue.)  The lineup is as follows: July 29 – Henry Johnson Quartet; August 5 – Havana: A tribute to Richie Pillot; August 15 – Dennis Luxion / Michael Raynor Quartet; August 19 – Neal Alger’s Blue Note Quartet and August 26 – Josh Berman and His Gang.


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  • @miguelzenon delivered an astounding set last Sunday. #tbt #ChiJazzFest #IdentitiesAreChangeable

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