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Jazzing in Chicago – Chicago Jazz Tour and Fest

10/09/2013

It was Sinatra’s kinda town and it’s a place for great music – my sweet home Chicago.

Officially from the website Jazz Fest is …Known for its artistic creativity, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition. It promotes awareness and appreciation for all forms of jazz through free, quality live musical performance. Since 1979, the festival’s mission is to showcase Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages. http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_jazz_festival.html

Here’s what it really is

Beautiful Millennium Park downtown Chicago at dusk on the final night of Jazz Fest

Beautiful Millennium Park Chicago at dusk on the final night of Jazz Fest. The best bands I heard had an 81 year old band leader!

Free admission – just bring a chair or blanket and wine and snacks!

Jazz Fest kicks off with a Jazz Tour sponsored by the Chicago Jazz Institute. For a $25 fee you get a very nice photo pin (or just wear one of the past years real nice photo pins – we spotted a 2004 one) and hop aboard a trolley to access 15 different jazz clubs all over Chicago. The tour goes as far as 7000 North at the Mayne Stage and as far as 8700 South. (Remember the Great Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed 3.3 squares miles so the city is rebuilt on a grid. That’s the reason it is called the Second City. Population wise Chicago is actually the third city behind NYC and LA.)

The Jazz Fest Tour is one of the coolest things I have done in a Chicago ..

Reggie's Music Joint - there's a rooftop in Chicago I didn't know about? With cute musicians, an $8 buffet with sliders & mac&cheese and an outdoor pool table with a view of a Southbounder red line train? Loved it!

Reggie’s Music Joint – there’s a rooftop in Chicago I didn’t know about? With cute musicians, an $8  mac&cheese/slider buffet and a outdoor pool table with a view of a Southbounder red line train? Loved it!

Norman's Bistro with Ernest Hawkins  To use some jazz vocab these cats were excellent!  The drummer had four sets of sticks and with four musicians there was a fedora, a beret! Do these guys need a groupie? I am in!

Norman’s Bistro with Ernest Hawkins – these cats were excellent! The drummer had four sets of sticks! and there was a fedora, a beret and a swinging sound check guy. Do these guys need a groupie?

A drummers eye view of the world at 50 Yard Line with a seven man band and a sequined, 60+ plus set of swing dancers that were all out hitting it on the dance floor. The lady lead singer took a song break or two to bus some tables - pretty cool joint.

A drummers eye view of the world at 50 Yard Line! A seven man band with a sequined, 60+ plus set of swing dancers that were all out hitting it.  The lady lead singer took a song break or two to bus some tables – pretty cool joint.

City Life Alfonzo Jones trio - felt like I was in a the band leaders basement bar he was so comfortable up there meanwhile the bar looks a bit like a diner and there is ketchup and a honey bear honey bottle at each spot along the Formica counter -- why?  That's for the chicken and fish they fry and the owner puts her own bbq/hot sauce in the honey bear jars - I almost put on in my purse!

City Life with the Alfonzo Jones trio – felt like I was in a the band leaders basement bar he was so comfortable up there! Meanwhile the bar looks like a diner with a ketchup and a honey bear honey bottle at each spot along the Formica counter — why? That’s for the chicken and fish they fry and the owner puts her own bbq/hot sauce in the honey bear jars – I almost put on in my purse!

We went to Red Pepper Lounge but they hustle the “Jazz Tourists” right past the regulars into the back which (Kindly Intended Criticism Warning) kinda felt like a conference room but we hopped on a trolley and saved a hefty cab fare back to The Drake at Oak Street between the Mag Mile and Lake Michigan. The Drake’s Palm Court is often thought of for Christmas season high tea and other formal occasions but watch their schedule for terrific jazz music if you are looking for a reason to get dressed up and swing!

The Flat Cats play the Drake regularly and are terrific! http://www.flatcatsmusic.com/events/
Catch the Flat Cats at the Drake on Saturday nights -- all ages and all musical tastes will enjoy!

I can hear a few of you questioning my musical appreciation … when did I become a swinger… musically.. that is. In my days as the Singles Tour Director I heard and danced to a lot of swingy jazz bands. Remember, Gentleman, if you learn to dance; you can get laid forever… no matter your health or wealth .. if you can see or hear as long as you can still take the lead on the dance floor the ladies will love you.

My jazz appreciation multiplied when I read Moving to High Ground; How Jazz Can Change You Life by Wynton Marsalis. It’s like a love letter to Jazz itself and helped me learn how to be a better listener and for part of the book I believed him… jazz can change my life!

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If you come to my sweet home Chicago and are looking to have your own jazz fest… I recommend the following …

Up on the Northside

http://www.katerinas.com/  – great food, romantic and terrific music!

http://www.jazzshowcase.com/ – a real ‘listening room’ as they say – south of the loop

http://www.andysjazzclub.com/ – right downtown near Michigan Ave — a little touristy but you can hit it right and hear great music all times of the day

http://greenmilljazz.com/  a Northside classic – kind of a throwback to jazzier times past

And not to worry this snowbird still can sing the blues at the beach http://www.bluejeanblues.net/

Finally below are the lyrics to my favorite jazz song….and an excellent primer on how to win my affections …

“Peel Me A Grape”

Peel me a grape, crush me some ice Skin me a peach, save the fuzz for my pillow Talk to me nice, talk to me nice You’ve got to wine and dine me
Don’t try to fool me bejewel me Either amuse me or lose me I’m getting hungry, peel me a grape
Pop me a cork, french me a fry Crack me a nut, bring a bowl full of bon-bons Chill me some wine, keep standing by Just entertain me, champagne me Show me you love me, kid glove me Best way to cheer me, cashmere me I’m getting hungry, peel me grape
Here’s how to be an agreeable chap Love me and leave me in luxury’s lap Hop when I holler, skip when I snap When I say, “do it,” jump to it
Send out for scotch, boil me a crab Cut me a rose, make my tea with the petals Just hang around, pick up the tab Never out think me, just mink me Polar bear rug me, don’t bug me New Thunderbird me, you heard me I’m getting hungry, peel me a grape
One Comment
  1. Mary Gilham permalink

    Loved it .. How cool is Chicago? Just talked about Chicago at lunch today. One friend flew for American for long time and lived there. It is a “toddling town” . Have fun .. Oh right you always do!!!! Love

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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