Among the most fondly remembered concerts during the two decades of jazz programming at Symphony Center/Orchestra Hall:
“Johnny Griffin’s Big Soul-Band” (2000): a celebration of the ultimate tough tenor’s 1960 album, with artists from the original session including Clark Terry, Julian Priester and Norman Simmons joining Chicago’s Little Giant.
“A Tribute to Miles and Coltrane” (2001): featuring a customized Herbie Hancock quintet including Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove.
Two 70th-birthday celebrations: Chicago tenor legend Von Freeman (2002) and Jazz Showcase impresario Joe Segal (2006). Freeman was joined by his son Chico, Sam Rivers, Muhal Richard Abrams and Mulgrew Miller; Segal was feted by Yusef Lateef, Jimmy Heath, Lou Donaldson, James Moody, Junior Mance — and the one and only “Vonski.”
“An Evening with Lee Konitz” (2005): the cerebral alto saxophonist in a duo with old piano crony Paul Bley and a quartet with guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron.
Epitath and Chicago River Suite: two mega presentations of Charles Mingus’ posthumously assembled opus Epitaph, performed in 2007 with Gunther Schuller conducting a 31-piece orchestra, and Orbert Davis’ Chicago River Suite, performed in 2013 by his 60-member Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.
We Insist! Freedom Now Suite: Max Roach’s landmark civil rights work, performed in the 2009 celebration with Dee Dee Bridgewater filling the role originated by Abbey Lincoln.
Two productions led musically by Teri Lyne Carrington: “Billie & Me” (2005), a genre-crossing, multimedia tribute to Lady Day featuring Diane Reeves, Joan Osborne, Rokia Traore and Rita Coolidge, and “Sing the Truth!” (2013), a celebration of Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta featuring Reeves, Angelique Kidjo and Lizz Wright.
Two Jason Moran inventions: “In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall” (2007), a multimedia presentation reflecting on Thelonious Monk’s momentous 1959 Town Hall concert, featuring an expanded edition of Moran’s Bandwagon trio, and “A Tribute to Fats Waller” (2012).
“Things to Come: 21st Century Dizzy” (2010): new arrangements of Dizzy Gillespie classics performed in the global spirit of his United Nations Orchestra, with Danilo Pérez leading a lineup including David Sanchez, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Amir ElSaffar.
The Great Flood (2012), a collaboration between guitarist-composer Bill Frisell and filmmaker Bill Morrison combining archival film footage of the Mississippi River flood of 1927 and newly composed music.
ABOVE: Orbert Davis (far left) leads his 60-member Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in his Chicago River Suite earlier this year at Symphony Center. | Todd Rosenberg Photography