Opening night, August 31, will feature the music of Dizzy Gillespie, who appeared at the festival in 1980, 1984 and 1989. Gillespie’s tribute will feature his protégé Jon Faddis and the Chicago Jazz Festival Big Band featuring Chicago musicians and special guest artists Jimmy Heath, Ignacio Berrora, Antonio Hart and Todd Coolman.
Thursday will also showcase 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.
On Friday, September 1, master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ, Dr. Lonnie Smith, will make his fourth appearance at the festival. Saxophonist and composer Donny McCaslin will appear with his band – keyboardist Jason Lindner, drummer Mark Guiliana and bassist Tim Lefebve. They are collaborators on David Bowie’s Grammy® Award-winning album Blackstar and have been touring the world in support of McCaslin’s latest album Beyond Now.
The evening will close with Dizzy Gillespie’s Centennial Celebration. The tribute will include a surprise headliner to be announced in June.
On Saturday, September 2, the Dr. Michael White Quartet will perform. 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, BassDrumBone, a trio of Chicago natives – trombonist Ray Anderson, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemmingway is drummer 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.”
Closing the night will be Ellabration! 100 Years of Ella Fitzgerald. It will feature the Brad Williams Trio, Sheila Jordan, Dee Alexander, Frieda Lee, Spider Saloff and Paul Mariano. Ella performed at the festival in 1981.
On Sunday, September 3, iconoclastic saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell and his Quartets celebrate 50 years of Nessa Records. One of the key figures in avant-garde jazz and co-founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Mitchell will be joined by Alvin Fielder on drums, Fred Berry on trumpet and Junius Paul on bass, and the second quartet will feature 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’ll be 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.