Chicago June 23 2014 - A tribute to Victor Venegas, a native of Durango, Mexico, who became one of the great bassists in Latin music as a South Side Chicagoan, highlights the 8th annual Chicago Latin Jazz Festival on Friday, July 18 and Saturday, July 19 at the Humboldt Park Boathouse (1359 N. Sacramento). Now in its second year as a two-day music and cultural arts and crafts attraction, the family friendly and free event offers a full range of musical performances, instrument and mask-making workshops and more.
Venegas, who died in 2006, helped introduce to America the charanga, the Cuban dance music he performed in the 1940's as a member of Orquesta Nuevo Ritmo de Cuba, led by Armando Sanchez. Their work inspired Charlie Palmieri and Johnny Pacheco – two of the many Latin jazz masters greats Venegas played with after moving to New York. He also played with such West Coast legends as Errol Garner, Cal Tjader, and Mongo Santamaria (he can be heard on "Watermelon Man"), and left his mark on salsa as well.
Venegas' music will be performed Friday by a specially assembled group of leading Chicago performers called the Chicago Latin Jazz Collaborative. Led by Jose Porcayo, a much-admired bassist and leader of the pop-influenced unit, La Nueva Corporación, the band includes drummer Bobby Delgado, conga player Joe Rendon, pianist Joaquin Garcia and saxophonist Max Wassinger.
"We've been wanting to honor Victor since he passed, especially because a lot of younger musicians are unaware of him and what he contributed to some of the music they're playing," said Carlos Flores, Chicago Latin Jazz Festival Artistic Director. "It will be great to hear the group perform pieces of his they themselves have chosen."
Friday's concert also features the brilliant violinist James Sanders' Proyecto Libre, an improvisational band including bassist Joshua Abrams, Latin percussionist Jean-Christophe Leroy, drummer and wood flutist Avreeayl Ra – and, as special guest, tenor saxophone great Edward Wilkerson. Closing the show will be hard-hitting conguero Johnny Blas' Afro Libre Orchestra, known for its killer trombones.
Saturday's musical bill features young percussionist and composer Juan Pastor's Chinchano, whose inventive approach applies Central and South American rhythms to jazz. The band includes rising trumpet star Marquis Hill, alto saxophonist Rich Moore, pianist Stuart Mindeman and bassis tPatrick Mulcahy. Also performing are Ruben Alvarez's Sun Sounds, led by the veteran percussionist (a longstanding member of Chévere De Chicago) and direct from Puerto Rico, esteemed trombonist William Cepeda, whose Afro-Caribbean jazz brings a special emphasis to the music of his native Puerto Rico. His band includes a pair of celebrated Chicagoans, trumpeter Victor Garcia and tenor saxophonist Roy McGrath.
Saturday afternoon's festivities, running from 1:30-4:15 PM, include Master story-telller Mama Edie, the Congolese percussion ensemble, Tambours Sans Frontieres; the Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble, performing everything from traditional Mexican and Caribbean folk melodies to classical pieces, instrument and mask making, and carnivale decorations.
About Jazz City
JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the Jazz Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, now in its 17th season of bringing people together from across the city to hear, appreciate and enjoy 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.
About the Jazz Institute of Chicago
For 45 years, The Jazz Institute of Chicago has promoted and nurtured jazz in Chicago by providing jazz education, developing and supporting musicians, building audiences and fostering a thriving jazz scene. For more information on our programs, visit www.jazzinchicago.org.