by Howard Reich
The best jazz festivals offer more great performances than you could possibly attend in their entirety, presented in environments well-matched to the music at hand.
By that definition, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival stands out among Chicago's jazz soirees, its ninth annual edition this year presenting three world premieres: by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer and visual artist Mikel Patrick Avery.
Following are some of the most promising events. All concerts are free, though some require that tickets will be acquired 30 minutes before the performance. For more information, visit www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org.
Kenwood Academy Jazz Band: Kenwood Academy High School has launched Tammy McCann, Maggie Brown, Marquis Hill and Bethany Pickens, among others. The tradition continues under the direction of Chicago jazz musician Gerald Powell. 1 p.m., Kenwood Academy High School Auditorium, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.
Tatsu Aoki's Miyumi Project: Chicago bassist-bandleader Aoki has been championing his merger of Japanese folkloric music and avant-garde jazz for decades, the music as provocative as it is satisfying. He's joined by members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), making this a de facto homage to the organization's 50th anniversary. 1 p.m., University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Justefan Group: The dynamic young vibraphonist recently moved to Los Angeles – our loss, but here's a chance to catch him leading his own band. 1:30 p.m., Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Woodlawn Avenue
Isaiah Collier and Thaddeus Tukes: Collier, a prodigious saxophonist from ChiArts High School, teams with Tukes, a polished vibraphonist studying at Northwestern University. 2:30 p.m., University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th St.
Whirlpool with Ron Miles: Cornetist Miles collaborates with the creatively restless, aptly named Whirlpool, featuring saxophonist Caroline Davis, guitarist Jeff Swanson and drummer Charles Rumback. Expect music from their recent recording "Dancing on the Inside." 2:30 p.m., Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Woodlawn Avenue
Laurence Hobgood: Any chance to hear the former Chicagoan at the piano is worth grabbing, but this time especially so, for Hobgood will be playing a rare solo concert. 3 p.m., Kenwood Academy High School Auditorium, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.
Dana Hall/Nick Mazzarella Duo: What happens when a powerhouse Chicago drummer (Hall) shares a stage with an innovative Chicago saxophonist (Mazzarella)? We're about to find out. 3 p.m., University of Chicago's Logan Center Performance Penthouse, 915 E. 60th St.; free admission, but tickets required and available 30 minutes prior to performance at Logan Center box office.
Ambrose Akinmusire's "banyan": The brilliant trumpeter presents the world premiere of an hourlong, multimedia work commissioned by the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. In "banyan" Akinmusire features video footage of jazz masters in conversation as he ponders the future of the music and its musicians. 3:30 and 5:15 p.m., University of Chicago's Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Fat Babies: The music of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Condon and other immortals of the early chapters of jazz history sounds freshly urgent when the Fat Babies are at their best. 4:45 p.m., West Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Ellis Avenue
Ari Brown Quintet: A soulful improviser whose sound runs as deep as his thoughts, Brown is joined by pianist Kirk Brown (his brother), bassist Yosef Ben Israel, drummer Avreeayl Ra and percussionist Dr. Cuz.5 p.m., Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.
John Wojciechowski Quartet: If saxophonist Wojciechowski weren't a teacher at St. Charles North High School, he easily could have been internationally touring virtuoso. Perhaps he'll play excerpts of his forthcoming recording, "Focus." 6 p.m., Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Woodlawn Avenue
Geof Bradfield/Jeff Parker "Play Monk": Combine the comprehensive saxophone mastery of Bradfield with the less-is-more approach of guitarist Parker, and you're likely to have an edgy, brainy contemplation of music by Thelonious Monk. 6:30 p.m., Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Mary Stallings with Bruce Barth: Here's a rare opportunity to hear one of San Francisco's most beloved musicians, singer Stallings, who will be accompanied by formidable pianist Barth. 7:15 p.m., University of Chicago's Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Russ Johnson's Headland: Trumpeter Russ Johnson, whose move to the Midwest from the East Coast has been a boon to Chicago listeners, leads Headland, featuring Chicagoans Matt Ulery on bass, Rob Clearfield on keyboard and Frank Rosaly on drums. 7:30 p.m., University of Chicago's International House, 1414 E. 59th St.
Tomeka Reid: The protean Chicago cellist unveils a work commissioned by the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, inspired by the fest's Story Share Project, in which Chicagoans document their jazz memories. 8:30 p.m. at the Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Woodlawn Avenue.
Henry Threadgill and David Virelles: In another salute to the golden anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, AACM veteran and multi-instrumentalist Threadgill partners with formidable Cuban pianist Virelles. 9:30 p.m., University of Chicago's Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Regina Carter and Xavier Davis: As always, the first night of the festival concludes in a sacred space, with violinist Carter playing duets with pianist Davis. 11:30 p.m., University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Mikal Patrick Avery's "Parade": In another Hyde Park Jazz Festival commission, Chicago drummer and visual artist Avery presents a world premiere inspired by the fest's Story Share Project; the piece includes a parade. 3 p.m. at the West Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Ellis Avenue
Juan Pastor's Chinchano: Peruvian folkloric music intertwines with contemporary jazz in Pastor's seductively appealing music. 5 p.m. at the West Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Ellis Avenue
Willie Pickens Quartet: Who better to close the fest than the galvanic Chicago pianist? 6 p.m. at the Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, near Woodlawn Avenue
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune