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A Celebration of World-Class Music at the Chicago Jazz Festival

By Vasilka Atanasova
On September 14, 2010

It was a bit chilly in downtown Chicago during the first weekend of September, but the 32nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival warmed the hearts of jazz lovers. The air dissipated the sound of classical, smooth and contemporary jazz for four days, from Sept. 2 through Sept. 5.

The Chicago Jazz Festival is one of the longest running music festivals in Chicago. Despite the economic setbacks and need for budget cuts, the festival extended performances to four days in multiple locations in the beautiful city of Chicago. Thousands of jazz fans gathered at Millennium Park, Grant Park and the Chicago Cultural Center; all venues were at walking distance from each other, which made it easy for people to enjoy as much jazz music as possible.

Kicking off on Thursday, the Jazz Festival presented many world famous jazz musicians such as, John Faddis, Nicole Mitchell, Ramsey Lewis, Ahmad Jamal, Mike LeDonne Trio, Corey Wilkes, Steve Cole, as well as many professional and school bands, orchestras and ensembles.

Friday night at the Pritzker Pavilion, Ramsey Lewis, celebrating his 75th birthday, performed his first free concert in Chicago. This concert, covered by ABC 7 News, was a gift to his hometown of Chicago. Lewis is a legendary pianist and has received three Grammy's and recorded seven gold records throughout his professional life.

On Saturday, the Pertillo Music Shell presented David Weiss and his musical project, Charisma. This ensemble honored the trumpet legend Lee Morgan, and was comprised mostly of Morgan's colleagues from previous bands.

The Chicago jazz lounge Close Up 2, along with 87.7 FM, presented Corey Wilkes and Steve Cole on the Jazz and Heritage Stage. Natives from Chicago, these two extraordinary musicians filled the air with the sound of contemporary and smooth jazz. Young and energetic, both musicians also proved to be very gifted, as their rhythm flowed in front of the shouting and clapping audience.

Chicago's festivals demonstrate the vividness and cultural diversity of the city. More importantly, many festivals are free, which makes them even more popular among Chicagoans and tourists. During the Chicago Jazz Festival, a unique fusion of sounds emerged from the trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, guitars and pianos of jazz icons and young local talents, leaving the audience once again satisfied at coming out to enjoy a free Chicago event.

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