The 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival took place primarily at the city’s spectacular Millennium Park over Labor Day weekend. The four-day event included dozens of performances on multiple stages, including the extraordinary Jay Pritzker Pavilion—all of which were free to the public.
Scofield/Lovano Quartet—(left to right) John Scofield, Bill Stewart, Joe Lovano, and Ben Street.
Charlie Christian tribute—(left to right) Dave Onderdonk, Mike Allemana, Eric Hochberg, John McLean, Tom Radtke, Ernie Denov, John Moulder, and Neil Alger.
Festival highlights included trumpeter Orbert Davis’ celebration of the Centennial of the Great Migration Soul Migration, a tribute to the late bassist and composer Charlie Haden, and an expanded lineup of the Bad Plus performing Ornette Coleman’s 1972 masterpiece Science Fiction.
The biggest guitar event was the John Scofield/Joe Lovano Quartet’s scorching set, in which the longtime friends and musical collaborators burned through tunes from Sco’s 2015 album Past Present and early-’90s John Scofield Quartet material. Bassist Ben Street and original Quartet drummer Bill Stewart joined Scofield and saxophonist Lovano.
There was also a superbly swinging tribute to the great jazz guitar innovator Charlie Christian—who would have been 100 this year—featuring top Chicago guitarists John McLean, Mike Allemana, Dave Onderdonk, Neil Alger, Ernie Denov, and John Moulder.