August 30-September 2, 2018 • Free Admission • Millennium Park & Chicago Cultural Center

Summer in Chicago goes out with a bang — and some bebop, funk and skat, as well.

The oldest of Chicago's free lakefront music festivals celebrates its 40th year in 2018, and will boast incredibly diverse live sets across its carefully curated four days. The range of artists comprising the Chicago Jazz Festival runs the gamut from jazz legends and lost giants to influential modern masters and crucial new voices in the music’s continuing evolution.

An all-ages, multi-venue music event, the Chicago Jazz Festival brings free jazz to downtown's beautiful Millennium Park, as well as inside the nearby Chicago Cultural Center.

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Highlights from the 2017 FESTIVAL

Jazz Festival

Opening Night 2017

Opening night showcased the music of Dizzy Gillespie, who appeared at the festival in 1980, 1984 and 1989. Gillespie’s tribute featured his protégé Jon Faddis and the Chicago Jazz Festival Big Band, with Chicago musicians and special guest artists Jimmy Heath, Ignacio Berrora, Antonio Hart and Todd Coolman.

The night also showcased world-renowned, Chicago-born guitarist George Freeman with a 90th Birthday Celebration performance. Performing at the Chicago Jazz Festival since 1978, Freeman has played with Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Lester Young, Johnny Griffin, Richard Holmes Shirley Scott and his brother Von Freeman.

Jazz Festival

Day Two 2017

Master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ, Dr. Lonnie Smith, made his fourth appearance at the festival. Saxophonist and composer Donny McCaslin also appeared, along with keyboardist Jason Lindner, drummer Mark Guiliana and bassist Tim Lefebve. They were collaborators on David Bowie’s Grammy® Award-winning album Blackstar. The evening closed with Dizzy Gillespie’s Centennial Celebration. 

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah - Image

Day Three 2017

The night opened with a performance by the Dr. Michael White Quartet. Widely regarded as one of the leading authorities and culture bearers of traditional New Orleans jazz music, Dr. White is an accomplished, multi-faceted clarinetist, bandleader, composer, musicologist, jazz historian and educator. Following the performance were BassDrumBone, a trio of Chicago natives – trombonist Ray Anderson, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemmingway – and composer Allison Miller, whose band Boom Tic Boom has been described by the Wall Street Journal as “a razor-sharp precision that recalls classic drummer-led ensembles of 50 years ago.” The night closed with Ellabration! 100 Years of Ella Fitzgerald, featuring the Brad Williams Trio, Sheila Jordan, Dee Alexander, Frieda Lee, Spider Saloff and Paul Mariano. Ella performed at the festival in 1981.

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

Closing Night 2017

Iconic saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell and his Quartets celebrated 50 years of Nessa Records. One of the key figures in avant-garde jazz and co-founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Mitchell was joined by Alvin Fielder on drums, Fred Berry on trumpet, and Junius Paul on bass. A second quartet featured Junius Paul once again, along with cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Vincent Davis.

Charlie Parker often introduced jazz pioneer Sheila Jordan as “the singer with the million dollar ears.” Jordan has “absorbed bebop from the source, but she’s also a committed modernist whose style has evolved with the ensuing decades,” writes the New Yorker. She was joined by longtime collaborator, pianist Steve Kuhn and his Trio.

Drummer and imaginative jazz spirit Matt Wilson welcomes his new combo, Honey and Salt, a celebration of the American poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967). Wilson, like Sandburg, hails originally from Knox County, Illinois and for many years has composed music inspired by the poet’s work. The festival will close with the New Orleans institution, Rebirth Brass Band, a long-running group at the forefront of the brass band revival.

Glass reflection
For complete schedule and more information, visit the official Chicago Jazz Festival website: