Wow!!!!!!!!!!! What a fantastic conclusion to a wonderful series: World Class Jazz 2008, and the beginning of the 2008 Chicago Jazz Festival. Drummer Mike Reed and his partner, alto saxophonist Greg Ward undertood the enormous responsibility of bridging the sound of the post bebop era with that of 2008 . And it was successfully accomplished by involving three post bebop era instrumentalists with direct Chicago connections with five "young" Chicago veteran improvisers. Multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, trumpeter Art Hoyle, and trombonist Julian Priester joined forces with Reed, Ward , trombonist Jeb Bishop, saxophonist Tim Haldeman, and bassist Jason Roebke in producing one of the most important music projects of the year.
Although much of the night's work was a revision of work done by the veterans in the 50s and 60s, it also included new work from Reed and Ward that reflected the post bop era. And it was done with all participants sharing equally throughout the entire evening.
This was simply good old fashion straight ahead jazz as it was played" back in day".There were many high points during this performance but what stood out in this writer's mind was just watching young Reed and Ward take charge and direct this august group of legendary jazz musicians. They were masterful in their directions while also delivering explosive extended solos along with the other musicians. Also noteworthy was the work of bassist Jason Roebke. He was perpetually in motion and produced deep bass tones that were easily discernible throughout Millennium Park. Watching Sullivian , Priester, and Hoyle performing songs like Wilbur Campbell"s "Wilbur's Tune," with horns a blazing, and a great Priester original, was refreshing and rewarding.
This was truly a special evening and those assembled in Millennium Park undoubtably left with renewed hope and spirit and with the understanding that the future of great jazz in Chicago is truly in good hands with musician/composers like Greg Ward and Mike Reed.
Special mention must be made of the contribution that the Chicago Jazz Links Student Ensembles made throughout the summer prior to each Made in Chicago:World Class Jazz concert. These young aspiring musicians, under the leadership of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, performed admirably and demonstrated to the Millennium Park audiences that they are preparing to "take the torch" and lead the next generation jazz enthusiasts to another level. Most of these young men and women are currently in Chicago area high schools or entering college this fall.Best of luck to them and we all look forward toward seeing them perform in the future.