A whole new vibe at the Chicago Jazz Festival

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Aug. 30

Von Freeman Pavilion dedication: The inauguration of the newly named Von Freeman Pavilion, honoring the revered Chicago tenor saxophonist who died last year at age 88, will be marked by a few words from his son, Mark Freeman, and a brief solo performance by his brother, guitarist George Freeman. 2 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Von Freeman Pavilion

"A Tribute to Ken Chaney": The death of pianist-bandleader-educator Chaney last December at age 73 left a void in Chicago jazz. To honor Chaney's multi-faceted contributions, T.S. Galloway – who played alongside Chaney – will offer big-band arrangements of Chaney's compositions. 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion

Geof Bradfield's "Melba!": A gifted saxophonist and inventive composer-arranger, Bradfield dug deeply into the archives at Columbia College's Center for Black Music Research to study the life, times and music of trombonist-composer Melba Liston. He came up with a radiant, multi-movement suite celebrating Liston's achievements, including her work with pianist Randy Weston, who will collaborate with Bradfield and colleagues. 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park

Wadada Leo Smith's "Ten Freedom Summers": Trumpeter Smith considers "Ten Freedom Summers" a pinnacle of his life in music, as well as an exploration of the battle for civil rights in America. The collection of free-standing compositions spans several hours, so listeners will hear just excerpts of the work, which contains pages of high inspiration. Earlier this year, Smith's opus was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (I served on the jury).

Aug. 31

Whitney Young Magnet High School Jazz Combo: In past years, the festival's young people's stage had been shunted off to a far corner of Grant Park in inhospitable circumstances. This year, the Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Pavilion will feature high school ensembles in Millennium Park on the Harris Theater Rooftop. The Whitney Young band will kick off a string of student sets running from 11:30 a.m. to 4:25 p.m. Aug. 31 and 11:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Harris Theater Rooftop

Hamid Drake Quartet: The festival's artist-in-residence leads a powerhouse quartet featuring saxophonist Kidd Jordan, bassist William Parker and drummer Cooper-Moore, each a jazz searcher. 1:10 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Von Freeman Pavilion

Gregory Porter: Male jazz singers have been in desperately short supply for at least the past couple of decades, which makes Porter's emergence on the scene encouraging. 6:10 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Pritzker Pavilion

Jason Moran: Pianist Moran reprises his "Fats Waller Dance Party," which played to considerable success at Symphony Center last year.

Sept. 1

Jimmy Heath Quartet with Jeb Patton: At 86, irrepressible saxophonist Heath carries forth the legacy of his brothers, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath. 5 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Pritzker Pavilion

Robert Glasper Trio: An invitingly enigmatic pianist, Glasper has achieved considerable attention for his ventures into hip-hop and R&B, but jazz listeners likely will prefer the work of this group, which comes closer to jazz vocabularies. 7:25 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Pritzker Pavilion

Donald Harrison and the Congo Square Nation: Jazz and Mardi Gras Indian traditions will converge – or collide – in this set, featuring brilliant New Orleans alto saxophonist Harrison and venerable Chicago pianist Willie Pickens, among others.

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


Twitter @howardreich

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