Ad hoc groups are at the heart of Chicago's improvisational scene: They give musicians opportunities to work out their sounds and visions away from more formal settings. That's what tenor great Edward Wilkerson, bassist Tatsu Aoki and percussionist Michael Zerang – all leaders in their own right – had in mind when they first teamed up
Having cut his teeth in the stellar Chicago jazz trio of guitarist Bobby Broom, McCraven has embraced all manner of ethnic influences, traditional jazz styles, hip-hop and funk beats. And if becoming one of the most exciting drummers to emerge in Chicago in years wasn't enough, he also has become quite a sound visionary.
In addition to being a great town for tough tenors, Chicago has long been a great city for organ combos. Mike Schlick, one of the busiest drummers in town – he's a regular presence at Buddy Guy's Legends – has been part of some of the most impressive such groups of recent vintage.
Trained by Afro-Peruvian percussion master Eusebio Sirio "Pititi" and schooled at the National Conservatory in Lima, Juan Pastor brings his own expansive perspective to jazz – the music he moved to Chicago to be able to play.
Red, the debut album by the Jason Roebke Octet, was not only one of the best releases of 2014, it was also one of the surest indications that Chicago's improvisational scene, far from running out of gas after an extraordinary outpouring of music, was still firing on all cylinders.
Today, Cohan will write another page in his journal of special Chicago performances when he teams up with acclaimed vibraphone veteran Joe Locke. They'll be working on a smaller scale than they did on Locke's orchestral recording, Wish Upon a Star, for which Cohan wrote arrangements.
As one of the AACM's distinguished elders, saxophonist and wood flute visionary Douglas Ewart has never stopped striving for healing in his music through spiritual, sensory, intellectual and philosophical expression. If that seems like a pretty steep agenda, his winds, voice and percussion ensemble, Inventions, makes the climb a natural one.
As a drummer, John Hollenbeck has always avoided the obvious gutbucket solutions in favor of light textures and fresh voicings. That sensibility comes through in his composing and arranging as well, whether he's leading his big band or Claudia Quintet.
Each generation has a handful of artists who are embraced as role models not only for the brilliance of their playing, but also the private devotion with which they follow their muse. For more than a decade, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner has been one of those artists.
Bridgewater has seen jazz from all sides now – as a backup singer and pop stylist, as a cross-Atlantic star, as a as a Tony and Grammy winner and as host of the syndicated NPR program, JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Jay Pritzker Pavillion
Preston Bradley Hall
Jazz on Jackson
Jazz and Heritage Stage
The Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage