Chicago Jazz Festival: Neighborhood Nights Brings Jazz Performances Free of Charge,
To Neighborhoods Across the City

The Chicago Jazz Festival is Labor Day weekend, August 28-31 in Millennium Park. In the weeks leading up to the festival, free performances will be presented in venues across the city with the Chicago Jazz Festival: Neighborhood Nights concert series. Neighborhood Nights aims to expand the footprint of the Chicago Jazz Festival beyond the festival's home in downtown Chicago and partnering with community institutions such as the Chicago Park District, as well as various Chicago Public Library branches and community centers throughout Chicago.

To begin the series on July 18th and 19th, the 8th Annual Chicago Latin Jazz Festival will happen in Humboldt Park (1400 N. Sacramento Ave., Chicago). A tribute to Victor Venegas, a native of Durango, Mexico, who became one of the great bassists in Latin music as a South Side Chicagoan, highlights the 8th Annual Chicago Latin Jazz Festival on Friday, July 18 (7-10 p.m.) and Saturday, July 19 (1:30- 9 p.m.) at the Humboldt Park Boathouse (1359 N. Sacramento). Now in its second year as a two-day music and cultural arts and crafts attraction, the family friendly and free event will offer a full range of musical performances, instrument and mask-making workshops and more. Venegas, who died in 2006, helped introduce to America the charanga, the Cuban dance music he performed in the 1940's as a member of Orquesta Nuevo Ritmo de Cuba, led by Armando Sanchez.

Venegas' music will be performed Friday by a specially assembled group of leading Chicago performers called the Chicago Latin Jazz Collaborative. Led by Jose Porcayo, a much-admired bassist and leader of the pop-influenced unit, La Nueva Corporación, the band includes drummer Bobby Delgado, conga player Joe Rendon, pianist Joaquin Garcia and saxophonist Max Wassinger. Also featured on Friday: James Sander's Proyecto Libre with special guest Edward Wilkerson and NY conguero Johnny Blas' Afro Libre Orchestra.

Saturday's musical bill will feature young percussionist and composer Juan Pastor's Chinchano, whose inventive approach applies Central and South American rhythms to jazz. The band includes rising trumpet star Marquis Hill, alto saxophonist Rich Moore, pianist Stuart Mindeman and bassist Patrick Mulcahy. Also performing are Ruben Alvarez's Sun Sounds, led by the veteran percussionist (a longstanding member of Chévere De Chicago) and direct from Puerto Rico, esteemed trombonist William Cepeda,
whose Afro-Caribbean jazz brings a special emphasis to the music of his native Puerto Rico. His band will include a pair of celebrated Chicagoans, trumpeter Victor Garcia and tenor saxophonist Roy McGrath.

Saturday afternoon's festivities, running from 1:30-4:15 p.m., will include Master story-telller Mama Edie, the Congolese percussion ensemble, Tambours Sans Frontieres; the Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble, performing everything from traditional Mexican and Caribbean folk melodies to classical pieces, instrument and mask making, and carnivale decorations.

The following Neighborhood Nights event, on July 26th at the Garfield Park Conservatory (100 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, 5-7 p.m.) will feature the legendary Phil Cohran; an early member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, a co-founder of the Associatio n for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), inventor of the electric kalimba known as the frankiphone, and a bandleader who’s sound has influenced everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire to Kahil El’Zabar.

On August 1st, the singer Margaret Murphy Webb will perform at Arts Incubator (301 E. Garfield Blvd., Chicago, 5-7 p.m.). Margaret Murphy is an award-winning vocalist who has been performing for over thirty years. She developed her unique vocal style and showmanship under the tutelage of world-renowned tenor saxophonist Von Freeman with whom she shared the stage at the Taste of Chicago, The Jazz Showcase, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Andy's, The Green Mill and many other popular Chicago venues. As leader of her own quartet, she has been featured at the Navy Pier Beer Garden, Chicago Lake Cruises and Chicago neighborhood fests.

On August 8th, drummer Michael Zerang will perform with his band Blue Lights at the Logan Square Roundabout (3200 W. Logan Boulevard, Chicago, 5-7 p.m.). Zerang's group is comprised of many of Chicago's most exciting and adventuresome improvisers: saxophonists Mars Williams and Dave Rempis, cornetist Josh Berman and bassist Kent Kessler. Zerang has been a stalwart member of the creative music scene in Chicago, as both a musician and an advocate of the scene. In 1985, Zerang founded the Links Hall Performance Series, in which he presented over 300 concerts in his four-year tenure as curator.

The final event of the Neighborhood Nights series will be on August 16th at Woodson Regional Library (9525 S. Halsted St, Chicago, 1-3 p.m.) and will feature piano powerhouse Willie Pickens, a long-time veteran who has played with the likes of James Moody, Roy Eldridge, Max Roach, Clark Terry, Ira Sullivan and was a long-time sideman for Elvin Jones. Also featured will be NextGen bassist Katie Ernst and longtime Pickens collaborator Robert Shy.

A favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition celebrating both the mainstream of the national jazz scene as well as Chicago’s unique contributions to the art form, the 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival is August 28-31 in Millennium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street), presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Jazz Partnership and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

The Chicago Jazz Festival is sponsored in part by American Airlines, Aquafina, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune,, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Communications Direct, DownBeat Magazine, E&J Gallo Family Vineyards, LaGrou Distribution System, Metra, Pepsi and WGN-Television.

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About Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs And Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

About Jazz Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1969, the not for profit Jazz Institute of Chicago has programmed the Chicago Jazz Festival in partnership with the City of Chicago since the festival began in 1979. The organization’s mission to promote and nurture jazz in Chicago is carried out by providing jazz education for youth and adults, supporting the creation of new work by Chicago jazz musicians; growing the audience for jazz by presenting programs that are free and available for all and fostering a thriving jazz community.