"That's why I live in the community. I was there during the civil rights era, and I saw how everybody left," adds Dawkins, 59. "That's why I made a conscious decision to stay. ...
"Someone has to live in the community. Someone has to do something for the community."
Which is precisely what Dawkins is doing – through jazz.
Gregory Porter's 'Liquid Spirit'
The dearth of great male jazz singers has been painfully apparent for at least the past two decades, which makes Gregory Porter's debut on Blue Note Records a major event. In this stunning release, Porter asserts himself as singer-songwriter, his voice one of the most expressive baritones in jazz, his songs artfully crafted to tell profound stories in idiosyncratic but thoroughly persuasive and personal ways. The warmth of Porter's instrument in "No Love Dying," the church-inspired incantations he offers in "Liquid Spirit," the soulful utterances of "Water Under Bridges" and the rhythmic tension of "Lonesome Lover" (which easily could become a modern-day jazz standard) place Porter at the forefront of the under-50 generation of jazz vocalists.
The 14th annual Englewood Jazz Festival will take place at the Hamilton Park Cultural Center, 513 W. 72nd St.; admission is free. Free shuttle buses will depart from the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., at 11 a.m., 12:50 and 3 p.m. Saturday; from the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr., at 11:15 a.m., 12:40 and 2:15 p.m. Saturday; phone 312-747-6174 or visit englewoodjazzfest.org.
4 p.m.: Open rehearsal, with Live the Spirit Big Band playing Dawkins' "A Dream Come True or a Dream Deferred?"
7 p.m.: Roundtable discussion on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring bandleader Dawkins, musician Kelan Phil Cohran, author Timuel Black and poet Khari B.
7 p.m.: Live the Spirit Big Band plays the world premiere of Dawkins' "A Dream Come True or a Dream Deferred?"
Noon: Taylor Moore Trio with vocalist Margaret Murphy-Webb
1:05 p.m.: Live the Spirit Youth Ensemble
1:30 p.m.: Live the Spirit Residency Ensemble performs a work-in-progress, Dawkins' "1919."
2:20 p.m.: Live the Spirit Senior/Advanced Band
2:50 p.m.: Great Black Music Ensemble, directed by Mwata Bowden, performs premieres of compositions by Steve Berry and Tomeka Reid
3:50 p.m.: 2013 Spirit of Jazz Award presented to Kelan Phil Cohran, Art Hoyle and Bob Koester
4:10 p.m.: Henry Johnson Trio
5:30 p.m.: Ernest Dawkins' New Horizons Ensemble with Billy Harper