It will be a “night of firsts” on Sept 3, 8:30 p.m., when legendary jazz pianist – none other than Ramsey Lewis – brings his trio to Millennium Park as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival at the Pritzker Pavilion.
It will be a “night of firsts” on Sept 3, 8:30 p.m., when legendary jazz pianist – none other than Ramsey Lewis – brings his trio to Millennium Park as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival at the Pritzker Pavilion. The Ramsey Lewis Trio will perform as part of the ongoing celebration of his 75th (silver) birthday. The concert will feature a preview of his new composition, Colors: The Ecology of Oneness, with long-time collaborators, Larry Gray and Leon Joyce and will feature many firsts – first time the trio has presented a free concert in Chicago, first time in more than a decade that the ensemble has performed in a downtown Chicago venue and the first time since 1984 that Lewis has performed during the Chicago Jazz Fest. “This concert is a gift to my hometown,” Lewis says, “the city that nurtured and inspired me my entire life. We’re thrilled to perform surrounded by the vibrancy and awe-inspiring grandeur of the most beautiful city in the world.” Included will be a sneak preview of Lewis’ newest composition, a seven movement jazz suite that will make its world premiere in Tokyo later in September 2010. Also on the program: selections from To Know Her, a Lewis-composed ballet commissioned by the Joffrey Ballet in 2007; passages of Lewis’ Proclamation of Hope, the critically-hailed symphonic piece which debuted at Ravinia in 2009 and which will be presented at the Kennedy Center in November 2010; as well as some of the trio’s biggest hits, including The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy and their beloved gospel medley. Composer, pianist and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis has been referred to as “the great performer,” a title reflecting his performance style and musical selections that display his early gospel playing and classical training along with his love of jazz and other musical forms. A native Chicagoan born May 27, 1935, Lewis represents the great diversity of music for which Chicago is noted. Lewis first captivated fans with his debut album Ramsey Lewis and The Gentlemen of Swing” by the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956. By 1965, he was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with The In Crowd, Hang On Sloopy” and Wade In The Water. Over 80 albums later, he’s embarking on the latest phase of his career – as a composer. Lewis is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, four honorary doctorate degrees and numerous accolades including seven gold records and three Grammys. CJF runs Sept. 2-5. For more information and/or updates, call the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (312) 744-3315, TTY (312) 744-2964 or visit online at www.chicagojazzfestival.us. Festival Fun – Super-singing sensation Chaka Khan returns home to Chicago to perform on Labor Day before literally thousands on the main stage at the 2010 African Festival of the Arts – “Creating & Keeping the Culture” – on its closing in Washington Park. The 21st annual fest, presented by African International House – Patrick Woodtar, historian and geneologist, is president – will also feature such popular, non-stop, eclectic crowd-pleasing entertainers as Angelique Kidjo, Tito Jackson, Soweto Street Beat, jazz great Tammy McCann and Javan Jackson with Les McCann. Also over the four days: a marketplace (300-plus artists and vendors), food court (cuisine from the Diaspora), children’s and wellness pavilions, youth tennis tourney and sooooo much more! Something for everyone is guaranteed! The mission: to educate the fest-goers about Africa, the cradle of civilization, while celebrating her significance and impact on mankind.” Washington Park will be transformed into an authentic African Village complete with spectacular entertainment, pavilions, food, and more. The festival is built around African culture, art, music, history and activities that appeal to all communities and all ages. Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness author, and Kathy Hughes, founder of TV One, will reign over the African Fest as “Grand Baba” and “Grand Yeye.” Gardner hosted a kick-off in early August on the patio of his Trump Tower residence, and this Thursday, he and Hughes are the celebrity guests of honor at the traditional (“by invitation only!”) Pre-Gala Reception staged on the festival grounds in Washington Park. Kerry James Marshall, the festival’s 2010 featured artist, is a painter, photographer, printmaker and installation artist. His work is in major American museums and private collections, including the Art Institute and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He’s been featured in the 1997 Whitney Biennial, Documenta 10, and the 2000 Carnegie International. Solo exhibits of his work have been held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. In 1997, he was a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation award. He’s been production designer for several independent films, including Julie Dash’s acclaimed Daughters of the Dust. Marshall, who lives in Chicago and teaches art at the University of Illinois where he is a full professor, will be on site to sign copies of the festival poster, engage in discussion and present the Middle Passage/Diaspora Family Tree Project. In honoring the memory of the estimated 12 million Africans who were transported to the Americas during the 300 years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Marshall has begun a project to put names to what would otherwise remain faceless statistics. The Middle Passage/Diaspora Family Tree Project is an endeavor to produce as many individual portrait medallions as possible in Marshall’s lifetime. Each portrait will be added to an installation that serves as a commemorative family tree. Festival patrons are invited to have their picture taken and included as a part of the “Black Family Tree.” A copy of the medallion will be available to everyone who participates. Fest tickets: $10 in advance, $15 at the gate; family and weekend passes and group rates will be available. Call (773) 955-ARTS (2787). Newsy Names – A true legend indeed, Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, a founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History, an artist, institution-builder and educator, receives the coveted Legend & Legacy Award from the Art Institute of Chicago on Oct. 22 to celebrate and honor her with a special evening of tribute. The Legend and Legacy Award is an honor bestowed to living African American artists who, through their lifelong accomplishments, have achieved national acclaim. It was initially awarded in 2005 to Elizabeth Catlett … Chicago area folks who proudly call Knoxville College (in Tennessee) “alma mater” and the Vogue-Esquire Models of Chicago are in count-down mode for their 52nd Annual Luncheon & Fashion Show on Sept. 12 at the Lexington House in southwest suburban Hickory Hills. The yearly fundraiser gets underway with 11:30 a.m. cocktails. For $50 tickets, contact Sarah Hawthorne, (773) 374-5180, or any other member of the Chicago Chapter of the Knoxville College Alumni Ass’n … Michael House, Defender president, shows up in an interview conducted by Edward F. McElroy on Comcast Ch. 19 on Sept. 7, 8 p.m. Sharing the mike will be Mayor Jim Sexton of Evergreen Park … Liz Power’s Power Unlimited Showcase will be featured when the Cook County Bar Association Bench & Bar Spouses, Inc. present “2010 Fashions,” a scholarship luncheon on Oct. 24 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel … Happy b’day to Deborah Haruna Taylor, Darlene Hill, Dwain Kyles, Fran Gibbs, Renee Ferguson, Velma Wilson, Morris Smith, Linda Stanford, Fort Smith, Chris Nolen, Phil Strong, Dianne Hooks Gonzalez, Jamell Meeks, Bill Clinton, Vanessa Church, David E. Johnson, Bonnie DeShong, Geralyn Hopson, Adrienne Jones, Stu Rankin, Marshall Thompson, Sisi Donald Mosby, Kelly Redmond, Sporty King, Loretta Tisdale and Valerie West. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender