What to hear at the Chicago Jazz Festival

Following is a thumbnail guide to the most promising shows of the 35th annual Chicago Jazz Festival, running Thursday through Sept. 1. For a complete lineup to the free event, visit chicagojazzfestival.us or phone 312-744-3316.


Fat Babies: The Chicago band excels at repertoire from the 1920s and '30s; 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.

Hamid Drake: This year's artist-in-residence will lead his Chicago Trio, with saxophonist Ernest Dawkins and bassist Harrison Bankhead; 5 to 6 p.m. at Roosevelt University's Ganz Hall, 430 S. Michigan Ave.

Jack DeJohnette: The innovative drummer celebrates his Chicago roots by collaborating with key players from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM): Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill (with Larry Gray on bass); 6:30 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, near Randolph Drive and Michigan Avenue.


Von Freeman Pavilion dedication: Guitarist George Freeman, Von's brother, and others will dedicate the new stage at the Chicago Jazz Festival named for the venerated tenor saxophonist who died last year at age 88; 2 p.m. at the Von Freeman Pavilion, on the South Promenade of Milllennium Park near the Cloud Gate sculpture.

Geof Bradfield's "Melba!": Chicago saxophonist Bradfield will collaborate with pianist Randy Weston and others in a tribute to Melba Liston; 6:30-7:20 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion.

Wadada Leo Smith: The composer will lead an extended ensemble in excerpts from his "Ten Freedom Summers"; 7:40 to 8:40 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion.


Rudresh Mahanthappa: The creative saxophonist leads his band in music from his album "Gamak." 7:25 to 8:25 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion.

Jason Moran: A genre-defying pianist, Moran re-visits his "Fats Waller Dance Party"; 8:45 to 10 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion.

Sept. 1

Evan Christopher: The great New Orleans clarinetist views traditional idioms through contemporary sensibilities (and vice versa); 2:20 to 3:15 p.m. at the Von Freeman Pavilion.

Donald Harrison: An indispensable New Orleans clarinetist, Harrison and his Congo Square Nation intertwine jazz and Mardi Gras Indian traditions; 8:45 to 10 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion.

— H.R.