Wynton Marsalis, Chucho Valdés, Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland and are among the artists scheduled for the 2017-18 Symphony Center Presents Jazz Series, announced April 19. Now entering its 24th season, the series consists of 10 concerts featuring some of the most acclaimed and innovative artists in the genre.
Highlights of the 2017-18 lineup, announced by James M. Fahey, director of Symphony Center Presents, include the annual visit by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, an evening of New Orleans jazz featuring legendary vocalist Irma Thomas with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, tribute programs to iconic jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and American composer Leonard Bernstein, as well as special projects from NEA Jazz Masters Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Next season’s series also features some of jazz’s most original musical voices, including Chicagoans Mike Reed and Amir ElSaffar, as well as Antonio Sánchez and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.
All SCP Jazz Series concerts occur on Fridays at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted:
Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Oct. 13-14: As part of their annual residency, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will launch the 2017-18 SCP Jazz Series with two days of concerts and activities. First up, the group’s Jazz Series concert on Oct. 13, followed by Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in two SCP Special Concerts on Oct. 14, beginning with an 11 a.m. Jazz for Young People concert and concluding at 8 p.m. as Marsalis and JaLCO welcome a special guest artist for an evening program. Full program details will be announced at a later date. Led by acclaimed trumpeter Marsalis, the 15-piece ensemble believes its mission is not only entertain audiences, but also to enrich and expand the jazz community through performance, education and advocacy.
Irma Thomas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Oct. 27: An evening of Crescent City soul and roots music features Grammy Award-winning vocalist Irma Thomas and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in a program titled “The Heart and Soul Queen of New Orleans,” which includes new songs and classic hits from Thomas’ earlier recordings on Rounder Records. They’ll be joined by the Blind Boys of Alabama. Founded in 1961, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to uphold the storied legacy of New Orleans jazz. The band’s latest recording, So It Is, is out April 21. A popular New Orleans singer for decades, Thomas received her first major recognition for a string of hits in the 1960s, including “Time Is on My Side” and “It’s Raining.” More recently, her works have been heard on the HBO series “Big Little Lies” and Netflix’s “Black Mirror.”
Ravi Coltrane Quartet & Trio Beyond: Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield and Larry Goldings, Nov. 17: Opening the double bill is the Ravi Coltrane Quartet, led by Grammy-nominated saxophonist and composer Ravi Coltrane, son of jazz legend John Coltrane. Trio Beyond, consisting of drummer Jack DeJohnette, guitarist John Scofield and pianist-organist Larry Goldings, was created in 2003 as a tribute to percussionist Tony Williams. Led by Chicago native Jack DeJohnette, who turns 75 this year, Trio Beyond continues to chart new musical territory.
John Beasley & MONK’estra in a tribute to Thelonious Monk; Melissa Aldana, Jan. 26: Grammy-nominated pianist, composer and arranger John Beasley leads his MONK’estra in a program saluting the centennial of iconic jazz pianist Thelonious Monk (1917-1982). The 15-piece ensemble plays modern interpretations of Monk’s music with influences of hip-hop and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The MONK’estra is joined for this performance by harmonica player Grégoire Maret and trumpeter and vocalist Dontae Winslow. Opening the concert is Chilean tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, winner of the 2013 Thelonious Monk Competition, making her the first female South American to earn this distinction.
Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone, Amir ElSaffar & Two Rivers, Feb. 9: Chicago-based drummer Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone project evolved after he and his band found themselves trapped in a neo-Nazi rally during a 2009 tour of the Czech Republic. Exploring different aspects of race, politics and culture through the languages of jazz and spoken word, the critically acclaimed project was first premiered in 2015. Aside from gaining recognition as a jazz drummer, Reed also is a founding director of Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, programming chair of the Chicago Jazz Festival and owner of Constellation, an arts venue in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood. Chicago-born trumpeter Amir ElSaffar leads his Two Rivers ensemble in the latest installment of his ongoing “Rivers of Sound” project. Consisting of both Western and Middle Eastern musicians, the Two Rivers ensemble performs ElSaffar’s original works from the band’s 2017 release “Not Two,” which highlights an ongoing exploration of the intersection between jazz and Middle Eastern music.
Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Feb. 23: Two piano titans of Latin jazz, both steeped in the Afro-Cuban tradition, perform selections from their recent duo project “Trance.” The winner of six Grammys and three Latin Grammys, Chucho Valdés founded the legendary Latin jazz ensemble Irakere in the 1970s. Rubalcaba, a 15-time Grammy-nominee, received the SFJAZZ Leaders Circle Laureate Award and was an artist-in-residence during the 2002 Montréal Jazz Festival with Valdés. In 2010, Rubalcaba started his own record label and production company called 5Passion, which has recorded musicians such as tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake and Latin jazz percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo.
Bill Charlap Trio in a tribute to Leonard Bernstein, and Cécile McLorin Salvant, March 9: The Bill Charlap Trio, featuring pianist Bill Charlap, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, salute the music of iconic American composer Leonard Bernstein. The program is part of a season-long celebration of the Bernstein centennial in 2018, which will be represented in a variety of programs at Symphony Center. The trio will perform selections from its Grammy-nominated album “Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein,” a set of new interpretations of Bernstein songs from “West Side Story,” “On the Town” and more. The program closes with a set from vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose repertoire features rarely recorded or forgotten songs. McLorin Salvant’s album “For One to Love” (2016), won the Grammy for best jazz vocal album this year.
Dave Holland and Zakir Hussain in “Crosscurrents,” May 1: Bassist Dave Holland joins master percussionist Zakir Hussain and an all-star roster from the jazz and Indian music traditions. Hussain and Holland are joined by saxophonist Chris Potter, vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, keyboardist Louiz Banks, guitarist Sanjay Divecha and drummer Gino Banks. In 2002, Hussain was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government; he has performed and released recordings with musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, George Harrison and Van Morrison. The Grammy-winning Holland, who was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2017, has appeared with a host of jazz luminaries throughout his nearly five-decade career including Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Chick Corea.
Antonio Sánchez & Migration, Terence Blanchard and E-Collective, May 19: The evening opens with drummer Antonio Sánchez and his five-piece ensemble, Migration. Sánchez, who has worked with Grammy-winning guitarist Pat Metheny on eight albums, was asked by filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu to compose the original score of the film “Birdman” (2014), which won an Oscar. Two years later, Sánchez put out his second release with Migration, a 60-minute original piece called “The Meridian Suite.” The program closes with Terence Blanchard and E-Collective, which defies distinct genres and creates its own groove with a fusion of jazz, R&B, funk and blues. New Orleans native and trumpeter Blanchard leads his fellow quintet members: guitarist Charles Altura, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist David Ginyard Jr. and drummer Oscar Seaton. “Breathless,” the critically acclaimed 2015 album from Blanchard and the E-Collective, offers powerful musical reflections on the racial divide.
Dee Dee Bridgewater in “Memphis,” and the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart, June 1: For the SCP Jazz Series finale, vocalist and 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater opens the evening with a set inspired by her upcoming album “Memphis,” which pays tribute to the soul and blues music of her hometown. A swinging set from the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnhart, closes with selections that highlight the unique big band styles originating from cities such as New York City, Chicago and Kansas City, among others. The orchestra, which has won 18 Grammys, has performed at major jazz festivals worldwide.
Along with the 2017-18 SCP Jazz Series, several Symphony Center Presents Special Concerts also have been announced:
Herbie Hancock, Oct. 21: One of the most influential artists in jazz and R&B history, pianist Herbie Hancock returns to Symphony Center. The Chicago native and 14-time Grammy Award-winning artist continues to push musical boundaries and energize audiences with his performances.
Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester, April 20: Recognized as one of today’s leading interpreters of music from Germany’s Weimar Era, Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester return for a program based on their upcoming recording, “Raabe-Pop,” scheduled for release later this year.
Subscriptions for the 2017-18 SCP Jazz season in five-concert or 10-concert series are on sale now and begin at $130. Subscribers to any SCP Jazz Series may purchase single tickets to any SCP Special Concerts now. Single tickets for SCP Jazz concerts and SCP Special Concerts go on sale Aug. 11.
Subscriptions for the 2017-18 Symphony Center Presents Jazz Series and tickets to SCP Special Concerts may be purchased by phone at (800) 223‑7114 or (312) 294‑3000; online at cso.org, or at the Symphony Center box office, 220 S. Michigan.
TOP: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform with the CSO at a concert March 3. | Photo: Anne Ryan/For the CSO