This Weekend’s Hyde Park Jazz Festival ‘Has No Common Theme’ — Besides Good Music And Thoughtful Discussion, Of Course
by Maxwell Evans
Public discussions from back-alley jazz legends and local experts will complement a wide variety of performances, linking the history of jazz music to the lived experiences of black South Siders.
HYDE PARK — The two-day Hyde Park Jazz Festival returns for its 13th edition this weekend, getting local, national and international jazz artists acquainted with the South Side’s rich musical history.
Activities kick off Saturday at the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St., with “A Requiem for Jazz,” a piece from composer Angel Bat Dawid that was commissioned for the festival. The 12-part “funeral mass service” for jazz will celebrate the “resurrection of a new era of great black music.”
It’s one of two commissioned pieces set to debut at the festival, alongside saxophonist Isaiah Collier’s exploration of the African Diaspora.
“We’re commissioning the next generation of artists in thinking about the future of the music,” Dumbleton said.
A panel of DJs from Chicago’s mid-2oth Century underground jazz scene — highlighted in July’s Back Alley Jazz Festival — will follow Bat Dawid’s performance at the Logan Center.
The panelists have “incredible stories about the jazz scene during that time and the way that people convened around it, built a community around it,” Dumbleton said. “The music was central to neighborhood life.”
On Sunday at 3 p.m., WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore will discuss her book “The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation” at the Logan Center.
Moore’s talk will explore the connection between music and the development of the South Side, Dumbleton said. That’s a theme organizers hope to explore in more detail in coming years.
“Natalie’s book is so amazing because she is telling the history of housing, education, food systems and all of the kinds of systemic racism around those aspects of urban life,” Dumbleton said. “She’s doing it through her own family’s story. It’s incredibly relatable.”
Other events of note on Saturday include a tribute to trumpeter Roy Hargrove featuring his former drummer Willie Jones III and a storytelling tent on the Midway Plaisance.
“Historically, jazz has always been tied to explorations of place and tradition,” managing director Olivia Junell said. “The panel discussion, the talk with Natalie Moore and the storytelling tent are all sort of part of the same space that jazz tries to create.
Organizers expect about 20,000 people to attend the festival throughout the weekend.