Chicago Jazz Festival 2023: Celebration, Tradition & Innovation

Photograph by Tom Ehrlic

The countdown is on for Chicago’s renowned Labor Day weekend tradition, the Chicago Jazz Festival! Organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and curated by the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC), this festival pays homage to jazz in all forms. Running from August 31st to September 3rd, the event unfolds across Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center, and various locations throughout the city. Continue reading to explore how the festival shines a spotlight on both local talents and global jazz icons!

Notable Performers & Highlights

Donald Harrison at Chicago Jazz Festival

This year’s lineup boasts an array of notable artists, including three-time GRAMMY-winning jazz legend Ron Carter and Foursight, acclaimed American Jazz singer Dianne Reeves, prolific drummer and composer Makaya McCraven, and celebrated Cuban band Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars. A special tribute to the late Von Freeman will feature Chico Freeman’s performance on August 31st!

Diverse Venues & Performances

The festival is across various diverse venues. At the Chicago Cultural Center, performances take place under the historic Tiffany dome, featuring artists like The Natalie Scharf Quartet and Bobbi Wilsyn. The newly renovated Claudia Cassidy Theater will host captivating acts, including Francis Wong’s “Legends and Legacies” presented by Asian Improv and The Fred Jackson Quartet by The Elastic Arts Foundation. The Harris Theater Rooftop offers nights of jazz excellence, with the Young Lions Jazz Showcase and Next Gen Jazz, highlighting emerging talents.

Expanded Culinary Offerings

This year introduces an expansion of food and beverage options, including a jazz-inspired restaurant pop-up called “Wally’s Creole Corner.” Presented by Eleven North Hospitality, the pop-up features an array of New Orleans-inspired dishes and an exclusive beer named Double Clutch Jazz Kolsch Brew, designed exclusively for the festival.

Event Schedule & Venue Highlights

Thursday, August 31

– Chicago Cultural Center features a range of performances, including the Chico Freeman tribute and educational sessions.

Chico Freeman at Chicago Jazz Festival

– Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts Chico Freeman and Ron Carter and Foursight.

Friday, September 1st

– Performances at Von Freeman Pavilion and Jay Pritzker Pavilion, including Dianne Reeves.

Saturday, September 2nd

– Harris Theater Rooftop presents Young Lions Jazz Showcase.

– Von Freeman Pavilion and Jay Pritzker Pavilion host performances, culminating with Makaya McCraven.

Sunday, September 3rd

– Harris Theater Rooftop presents Next Gen Jazz.

– Performances continue at Von Freeman Pavilion and Jay Pritzker Pavilion, concluding with Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

While attendees are not permitted to bring outside alcohol, various alcohol options can be purchased within the festival grounds. For more details on the event, including the complete schedule and venue information, click here!

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