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Chicago Jazz Philharmonic opens the Millennium Park portion of the 40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

Jazzed Magazine • News • August 22, 2018

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (“CJP”), under the direction of artistic director and co-founder Orbert Davis, will open the Millennium Park portion of the 40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival on Wednesday, August 29 with a program called Legends and Lions. The festival is produced by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is programmed by the non-profit Jazz Institute of Chicago. For Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, this appearance carries extra significance as the orchestra was born out of Davis invitation to headline the festival in 2004. Davis is the first Chicago resident to headline the Chicago Jazz Festival in its history. For that performance, Davis was accompanied by a 55-piece jazz orchestra that went on to become the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

In its 2017-2018 season, the orchestra has collaborated with artists from three of Chicago’s immigrant communities, co-hosted the centennial celebration of former South African president Nelson Mandela, and has produced four free concerts at Millennium Park, including a world premiere of Davis’ Chicago Immigrant Stories.

“Our goal was to engage as many people possible,” added Birdie Soti, executive director, “the Chicago Jazz Festival helps us tell our story to new friends and reintroduce ourselves to old ones.”

The final concert, Legends and Lions, will feature a host of Chicago’s jazz legends playing alongside notable, up-and-coming musicians. Jazz legends include trumpeters Art Hoyle and Bobby Lewis, saxophonists Ari Brown and Pat Mallinger, flautists Nicole Mitchell and Steve Eisen, and vibraphonist Stu Katz. Emerging talents include vibraphonists Joel Ross and Thaddeus Tukes, vocalist Sarah Marie Young, flautist Mayshell Morris and saxophonist Kevin King II. Morris and King are former students of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s education program and served as counselors for the organization’s summer camp. This will be King’s third appearance at the Chicago Jazz Festival, having delivered the national anthem on the festival’s 2016 main stage and being featured last year at the festival’s Next Gen Jazz showcase. Another highlight will be Bethany Pickens, daughter of the legendary pianist Willie Pickens.

“We’re thrilled to have Bethany perform a tribute to her father with the orchestra,” added Davis, “Her dad performed almost yearly at the Chicago Jazz Festival. An accomplished musician in her own right, Bethany’s tribute at the festival represents what we want to do with this concert experience.”

The Jazz Festival performance concludes the orchestra’s season. The performance is free and open to the public, and will also be broadcast LIVE on WDCB 90.9/90.7FM.

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