Your guide to the Hyde Park Jazz Festival
by Howard Reich
In 2007, when a group of South Side visionaries launched the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, they hoped to bring long overdue attention to a neighborhood rich in jazz history.
“There are so many people in Chicago who simply don’t go south of Roosevelt Road,” James Wagner, one of the co-founders of the festival, told me at the time.
“On the North Side, a lot of people just don’t think of it.”
Since then, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival has become a magnet for thousands of listeners each fall, the 11th annual event featuring Chicago and visiting musicians on several stages this weekend.
Following are one listener’s picks for the most promising sets, the music unfolding at several Hyde Park venues on Saturday and on two outdoor stages on the Midway Plaisance (one named for Wagner, who died in 2009) on Saturday and Sunday. All performances are free; the music plays from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday; for more information, visit www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org.
Twin Talk. Bassist Katie Ernst, saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi and drummer Andrew Green formed this collective several years ago, the name referencing the intimacy with which twins often communicate. Ditto this ensemble. 2:30-3:30 p.m., University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Marlene Rosenberg/Scott Hesse Duo. Bassist Rosenberg and guitarist Hesse — who have backed uncounted Chicago and visiting stars — step into a richly deserved spotlight, two uncommonly sensitive improvisers responding only to one another. 2:30-3:30 p.m., University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th St.
Isaiah Collier and the Chosen Few. The up-and-coming saxophonist heroically battled the over-reverberant acoustics of the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace during the Chicago Jazz Festival earlier this month. Even so, there was no mistaking the growing self-assurance of Collier’s work. 3-4 p.m., Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Dana Hall’s Inner Dialogue: Sound and Semiosis (solo). The director of jazz studies at DePaul University, percussionist Hall is ubiquitous in Chicago’s clubs and concert halls, but rarely do we get to hear him in a solo set. 4-5 p.m., DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place
Nicole Mitchell and Ballake Sissoko: Bamako*Chicago Sound System. The marquee event of this year’s festival will feature former Chicagoan Mitchell, a globally admired flutist, collaborating with Malian kora master Ballake Sissoko and colleagues in a world premiere. 3-4 p.m. and 5:45-6:45 p.m., University of Chicago’s Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Ari Brown Quartet featuring Oliver Lake. With a sound as big as all outdoors, Brown personifies the Chicago tenor tradition; he’ll be joined by saxophonist Lake. 3:45-4:45 p.m., Wagner Stage, Midway Plaisance near Woodlawn Avenue
Grazyna Auguscik Group. A singular vocalist, the Polish-born, Chicago-based artist has been particularly effective in re-imagining Chopin’s music via jazz. 4-5 p.m., Logan Center Penthouse, 915 E. 60th St.
Nick Mazzarella/Tomeka Reid Duo. Two musical searchers — saxophonist Mazzarella and cellist Reid — join forces, with unpredictable results. 4:30-5:30 p.m., DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place
Amina Claudine Myers. Myers’ work encompass many musical vocabularies, and the opportunity to hear her playing solo piano and pipe organ in a single set is rare. 5-6 p.m., Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Dee Alexander: Monk and the Ladies. The irrepressibly inventive singer will salute this year’s Thelonious Monk centennial in the company of cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Marion Hayden, pianist Alexis Lombre and drummer Gayellyn McKinney. 6:15-7:15 p.m., Wagner Stage, Midway Plaisance near Woodlawn Avenue.
Geof Bradfield’s “Yes, and … Music for Nine Improvisers.” Reedist Bradfield will present this world premiere with saxophonists Greg Ward and Anna Webber, trumpeters Marquis Hill and Russ Johnson, trombonist Joel Adams, guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall. 7:15-8:15 p.m., Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Double Monk: Jeremy Kahn & Steve Million with Ariane Dolan. Pianists Kahn and Million transform Thelonious Monk’s music, with movement from dancer Dolan. 7:15-8:15 p.m., University of Chicago’s International House, 1414 E. 59th St.
Willie and Bethany Pickens plus Friends. Chicago piano giant Willie Pickens partners with pianist Bethany Pickens, his daughter. 9:30-10:30 p.m., Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Joe Locke/Warren Wolfe Duo. The tintinnabulation could be remarkable when two vibraphonists play the festival’s most cavernous space. 11 p.m.-midnight, University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Bell Jazz: Joey Brink. Can a carillon swing? University of Chicago carillonneur Brink will explore that question. The festival recommends listening from Rockefeller Memorial Chapel’s east lawn, along Woodlawn Avenue. 1-2 p.m., Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Fat Babies. Music of the 1920s and ’30s sounds freshly reinvigorated in the hands of this superb Chicago ensemble. 3-4 p.m., West Stage, Midway Plaisance near Ellis Avenue.
CALJE. Fortunately, the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble — featuring Tito Carrillo, Victor Garcia and Papo Santiago, among others — will perform in front of a dance floor. 5-6 p.m., West Stage, Midway Plaisance near Ellis Avenue.
Yes We Can: The Songs of New Orleans. Musicians of New Orleans and Chicago converge to close the festival with repertoire of the Crescent City. 6-7 p.m., Wagner Stage, Midway Plaisance near Woodlawn Avenue.
Howard Reich is a Tribune critic.