The 33rd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival continues its practice of growing the next generation of jazz performers with the Chicago Community Trust Young Lions Stage, now in its third year, a feature of the Grant Park portion of the festival, Saturday and Sunday, September 3 – 4.
The free admission festival is Sept 1-4, and held in four different locations; the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall and Grant Park. The Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage is one of four stages in Grant Park.
The performances include a variety of combos and ensembles from area high schools, colleges and universities.
The Chicago Public Schools are selected by their rankings at CPS’ All City Jazz Band Competition, which invites high school combos and ensembles to compete for a chance to play at the festival
On Saturday, September 3rd-
The stage opens on Saturday at 12 Noon with a group from one of the eight Chicago Public High Schools featured on the stage: the Curie Percussion Combo led by Shelly Samuels.
A magnet school in Archer Heights, the Curie High School Jazz program is so strong, that two bands from this school will be featured during the festival.
Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report named Jones College Prep one of the nation’s best high schools and a strong music program contributes to that.
The Jones College Prep Combo, under the direction of Frank Menzies performs the music of such jazz greats as Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter.
Followed at 1:30 PM by the Whitney Young Magnet Jazz Combo whose repertoire will include John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. This marks the third straight year that the school performs at this stage.
The Fatum Brothers Jazz Orchestra, led by Wilmette natives and New Trier High Schools grads, John and Michael Fatum is a band that the brothers started in high school, inviting friends from all over the Chicago area to play in the band.
Fresh from their Jazz Showcase appearance and live recording, the Fatum Brothers Jazz Orchestra features performers who have now graduated from high school and are now enrolled in programs such as the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School of Music and Northwestern University.
Returning for the second year in a row is KenwoodAcademyJazz Ensemble led by Gerald Powell which performs beginning at 3:10 PM.
Arts programs thrive at this south side school resulting in predictably strong Jazz bands.
Following them and concluding the stage that day is the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Robert Lark with special guest Phil Woods.
Woods, one of the last of the original bebop players, was inspired by the music of Charlie Parker and received the Jazz Masters award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007. One of the country’s most-honored college ensembles, DePaul University Jazz Ensemble plays regularly at Chicago’s Jazz Showcase and has recorded with Woods.
On Sunday, September 4th-
On Sunday, the Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage opens with two schools that performed on this stage at last year’s festival.
Lakeview High School Jazz Combo begins the day at 12 Noon.
Not only is Lakeview the oldest high school in Illinois but also possibly, its most musical, with 200 students filling ensembles, including five in this particular group.
Following them is the Chi Arts Jazz Combo from the Chicago High School for the Arts led by director Kevin Korschgen. One of three combos from this school that participated in the competition, this group features young line up with students who are still underclassmen, but all fantastic musicians .
Taking the stage at 1:30 PM is a group from a school that has only been open for five school years, the Pritzker College Prep Jazz Ensemble. Led by director Benjamin Das the Pritzker College Prep Jazz Ensemble will be performing the music of such classic jazz artists as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Mingus .
Representing the surrounding suburbs this year is the highly rated Rich Central Jazz Ensemble from south suburban Olympia Fields. Following performances at bowl games, parades and festivals, the ensemble, directed by Philip Crews performs at its first Chicago Jazz Festival beginning at 2:15 PM.
One of the many accomplishments of Artist-in-Residence Orbert Davis is his work with young people in the schools.
His final festival performance is when he takes this stage to lead his Jazz Academy, a summer jazz camp for youth. A joint project from the University of Illinois and Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the Jazz Academy students from the most recent session will perform with Davis as well as violinist Zach Brock.
The stage closes at 4:15 PM with the Curie Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Ian Torres performing with trumpeter Victor Garcia , a rising young trumpet player who has been commissioned by the festival to write an original composition for the band.
The Chicago Composer Award is given to the ensemble with the highest ranking at CPS’ All City Jazz Band Competition, and Curie joins past winners Kenwood Academy and Lincoln Park High School with that honor.
Complete line-ups are available at www.chicagojazzfestival.us.
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