Chicago celebrates with jazz festival

Calling all lovers of jazz! This year, Chicago’s annual Jazz Music Festival jammed out at multiple venues from Aug. 24 through Sept. 2 and wowed the crowds.

Held at Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center, the city’s best jazz musicians come together and dedicate the entire week prior to Labor Day to celebrate jazz music.

Inspired by composer and bandleader Duke Ellington, the city celebrated its 40th festival this year! Bands, high school ensembles, trios, and quintets were among the many performances in attendance.

Headline performances by Ramsey Lewis and Kurt Elling, both Chicago-born, were also included.

This year, I attended the Sept. 1 Harris Theater Rooftop show and was left extremely impressed by all the young and talented performers!

The Eric Solorio high school jazz ensemble took the win for my favorite performance. This group, led by Madiline Molldinado and Carlos Ayento, had performers both young and old on drums, bass, and more.

Young bass player Lydia stunned the audience as she switched from bass to vocals, performing “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.”

Chris Sanchez and Ruben Alvarez both stole the show with their execution of the drums and congas.

I was very impressed at how young most of the group was and the talent they possessed. They managed to put on a terrific show with their hard work and received a standing ovation.

The event has free admission, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy. Also included are concession stands for you to reboot your energy, not to mention the hundreds of restaurants already located in the city. Some people were even enjoying picnics. With plenty of space to walk (or dance) around, the event is family friendly with plenty of things to do while still enjoying the music.

The birthplace of several musical genres, such as gospel and house music, Chicago held a festival in the summer of 1974, a few weeks after the death of Ellington. The city’s best jazz artists came together to honor him and his legacy.

Back then, 10,000 people came out to celebrate and jam out to the music. It was in 1979 when the Jazz Institute of Chicago made its own August Festival. Then, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events decided to make it official, turning it into an annual event enjoyed to this day. Programmed by the Jazz Institute and coordinated by The Department of Cultural Affairs, the event welcomes crowds of up to 125,000 people each year!

Jazz Fest was very enjoyable and would definitely be worth re-attending. Next time you’re in Chicago for Labor Day weekend, make sure to check out the Jazz Fest and support your local musicians.


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