Friday March 8, 2013 at 7PM | Loyola Park | 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.
Jazz fans have plenty of opportunities to enjoy their favorite performers from the comfort of their seats or lawn chairs, but how often do you get a chance to kick up your heels as a great big band band kicks it into second gear? Among college bands, perhaps none is better than the NIU Jazz Ensemble at giving you a feeling for the days when bandstand giants like Chicago's own Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Jimmie Lunceford held forth, and jazz just wasn't cutting it if it wasn't getting you to cut some rug!
Under the direction of Dr. Ronald Carter, the Northern Illinoisans have earned recognition at any number of major jazz festivals. A measure of their distinction is the number of jazz luminaries who have performed with them, including Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Heath, James Moody and Louis Bellson. Bellson once told legendary NIU Jazz Ensemble founder Ron Modell that "this band plays my arrangements better than my own band!"
For the Big Dance, the Dekalb-based outfit will dig into its arrangements of big band legends including Count Basie, Woody Herman and Glenn Miller, including songs that once featured Frank Sinatra – back when you would have had to put the bobby soxers in restraints to get them to sit still.
The event is dedicated to one of Rogers Park's shining stars, the late Helen Doria, who as a Park District program director and later as the first executive director of Millennium Park was instrumental in getting the city to program free concerts in the neighborhoods and maintaining their growth and development. "Helen's vision of the park was one that was inclusive of everybody — all cultures, all classes, everybody," said Lauren Deutsch, executive director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago.
CTA President and former head of the Park District Forrest Claypool, in comments to the Chicago Tribune, spoke of how Ms. Doria, who died in December, "developed a vast network of arts and cultural patrons throughout the city. They in turn helped her bring the arts to every corner of the city, whether it was Millennium Park or the smallest neighborhood venue."
JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the Jazz Institute in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, now in its 16th season of bringing people together from across the city to listen to Chicago’s top jazz musicians. JazzCity is sponsored by WDCB 90.9 FM and WHPK 88.5 FM Radio and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information visit www. Jazzinchicago.org or call 312.427.1676