Why the Chicago Jazz Festival left Grant Park

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Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich discusses the Chicago Jazz Festival's plan to move from Grant Park to Millennium Park this year.

But isn't Boone concerned with possible sound-bleed issues among the various stages at Millennium Park?

"That was a consideration we always made over at (Grant) Park as well," she says. "The event in the past has been timed in a way to minimize sound bleed. It's a happy problem to have to solve."

Moreover, she adds, with the Chicago Cultural Center located directly across the street from Millennium Park, the connection between performances at both locations will be closer than ever.

Boone dismisses the oft-stated argument that leaving Grant Park was not possible because the commercial signage that underwrites the event would not be allowed at Millennium Park.

"There have been ways to acknowledge sponsors in Millennium Park," she says. "We will adhere to rules and considerations. …

"You won't see the Budweiser Pritzker Stage, but we'll be a bit more creative in acknowledging those that want to be supportive."

As part of the bulking-up of the festival, the hours will be expanded. Following the opening concert on Aug. 29 at the Pritzker Pavilion, music will play from 2 to 10 p.m. Aug. 30 at three stages in Millennium Park. On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, the music will resonate in several spaces from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

As in the past, the festival will be programmed in partnership with the non-profit Jazz Institute of Chicago, which long has championed Grant Park but says it embraces the new direction.

"We are excited about the possibilities of rethinking the festival, and we love Millennium Park," says Jazz Institute executive director Lauren Deutsch, who indeed had been instrumental in bringing the opening evenings of the Chicago Jazz Festival to the Pritzker Pavilion.

"We're looking at all the possibilities within the park and various venues close by."

That's a good sign, for the Chicago Jazz Festival needs to nurture clubs and concert halls in the city, just as the World Music Festival does, rather than compete with them.

Along these lines, why not encourage more voices and venues to participate in programming the Chicago Jazz Festival? Why not invite Symphony Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Jazz Showcase, Andy's Jazz Club and the Old Town School of Folk Music, among others, to present events under the Chicago Jazz Festival umbrella?

It's a new day at this festival, and the more deeply it reaches into the city's music scene, the better.

To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.

Twitter @howardreich

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