Story and Photos by James Walker
The First Annual Hyde Park Festival was a grand success. From the opening set at 11:00 AM by one of Chicago's premier trumpeters, Orbert Davis, at the DuSable Museum, to the final jam session at Midnight, anchored by dynamic drummer Derrick Henderson at the Checkerboard Lounge, music flourished non-stop on this gorgeous Saturday throughout Hyde Park.
Even organizers were astonished by the overflowing crowds at each of the seven venues. Unfortunately for the public, several venues were inadequate to accommodate the crowds that had assembled to take part in this historic happening. Why not? Where else could one absorb, free of charge, the sights and sounds of world class jazz performers like vocalist Dee Alexander, keyboardists Willie Pickens, Robert Irving III and Miguel de la Cerna, drummers Charles Heath and Ernie Adams, sax players Ari Brown and Jimmy Ellis, trumpeter Corey Wilkes and bassist Junius Paul to name a few.
In addition, the world of smooth jazz was well represented by Chicago's finest: keyboardist Reginald McCants, bassists Will Howard, Michael Sterlinga and Frank Russell, sax players Ray Silkman, Audley Reid, Skinny Williams and James Perkins. It was this foursome of sax stars, along with Ben Johnson on drums, Alan Burroughs on guitar, Will Howard on bass and Roger Weaver on piano that had the crowd at the Midway Plaisance Stage standing and clapping as they brought the afternoon set to a climax. These four dynamic saxophonists playing in unison was a sight to see.
They were preceded by a strong set led by percussionist Tony Carpenter, with Charles :Rick" Heath on drums, Kevin Strong on African djembe and Olu Shakoor on jun jun. They were joined by Frank Russell on bass, Ari Brown on sax and Herb Walker on guitar.
This writer was very fortunate to squeeze into the Hyde Park Art center to see the evening's final four acts. Saxophonist Jimmy Ellis opened the evening with a fine set. He was followed by vocalist Maggie Brown, accompanied by her sister, Africa Brown, de le Cerna on keys, Mike Sterling on bass and Duane Jones on guitar.
The incomparable Willie Pickens, along with daughter Bethany on drums, and bassist Rob Amster, pleased the crowd with some great sounds, while Corey Wilkes, Robert Irving III, Junius Paul and Ernie Adams concluded the evening with a fantastic array of sounds. This group often play together and they were in rare form this evening. What a treat it is to see these gentlemen finishing a successful jazz festival; with 90 minutes of outstanding jazz,
What a day! What an evening! Congratulations to the Hyde Park Jazz Society for a great idea and a successful festival. Letís hope next year the venues will be large enough to accommodate the large crowds that some of this yearís venues were unable to handle.
Congratulations and credits for the fest to:
Hyde Park Cultural Alliance,Hyde Park Art Center, University of Chicago/Community Affairs, Hyde Park Jazz Society & Carolyn Albritton, Music Producer