The returns of NEA Jazz Masters Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Wynton Marsalis and Maria Schneider; tributes to the centennials of legends Dave Brubeck and Charlie Parker, and appearances by rising stars Cécile McLorin Salvant and Thaddeus Tukes are among the programs announced May 5 for the 2020-21 Symphony Center Presents Jazz series.
For the series’ 27th season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association continues its commitment to presenting some of today’s most acclaimed and innovative jazz artists. Also booked for the 10-concert lineup are the annual residency of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for a two-night residency and a MoodSwing Reunion featuring Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Brian Blade. In addition, bassist Dave Holland and pianist Danilo Pérez will appear in programs developed exclusively for SCP Jazz that showcase each artist with multiple ensembles.
Given the current public health situation, programs are subject to change. All SCP Jazz concerts are scheduled for 8 p.m. Fridays at Symphony Center, unless noted otherwise.
A MoodSwing Reunion, Sept. 30: Saxophonist Joshua Redman reunites with members of his first established quartet — pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade — co-creators of the hit album “MoodSwing” in 1994. Since then, each musician has gone on to earn critical acclaim for his individual projects and other collaborations, ranging from big bands to chamber orchestras to folk ensembles. This reunion draws on their myriad experiences for a program showcasing their talents and versatility.
Jack DeJohnette, Thaddeus Tukes Quintet, Oct. 30: Celebrating two Chicago percussionists, this program is a part of the Year of Chicago Music, a citywide, yearlong focus organized by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Veteran drummer and NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette returns to his hometown with John Coltrane’s saxophonist son, Ravi Coltrane, and bassist Matthew Garrison, son of John Coltrane’s quartet bassist, Jimmy Garrison. While this trio explores a connection to their jazz legacy, their compositions and improvisations are contemporary and feature DeJohnette’s driving rhythms, Coltrane’s lyric solos, and Garrison’s lean and punctuating bass lines.
The concert opens with the Thaddeus Tukes Quintet in its SCP Jazz series debut. An alumnus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s Percussion Scholarship Program, Chicago native Tukes is known for his blues-based tunes and fluid style on the vibraphone.
Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Nov. 20: Celebrating the centennial of their father, jazz icon Dave Brubeck, sons Chris and Dan Brubeck first started performing as teens with their composer-pianist father before forging their own musical paths: Chris in symphonic, band, chamber and jazz music composition and trombone and bass performance, and Dan as a drummer in his electric jazz group, The Dolphins. The brothers lead their quartet, which includes pianist Chuck Lamb and guitarist Mike DiMicco, and special guests Catherine Russell on vocals, Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond B-3 organ and Chicago native Chico Freeman on tenor saxophone. Created exclusively for SCP Jazz , the program features new arrangements of the jazz standards their father crafted, along with a multimedia presentation.
The Bad Plus with Kurt Rosenwinkel; Greg Ward’s Rogue Parade, Jan. 29: Since the group’s founding in 2000, The Bad Plus has established a genre-defying sound that melds rock, pop, modern jazz and classical influences in a diverse repertoire ranging from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Joining the trio, which consists of founders Reid Anderson on bass and David King on drums, and Orrin Evans on piano, is special guest guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, known for his shimmering, crystalline tone and fluidly lyrical approach.
Opening the concert, in its SCP Jazz debut, is the Chicago-based Rogue Parade, performing music from the band’s album, “Stomping Off From Greenwood” (2019). Led by alto saxophonist Greg Ward, Rogue Parade also features guitarists Matt Gold and Dave Miller, bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Quin Kirchner in a sound that blends improvisation and rock energy.
Bobby McFerrin, Feb. 12: With a four-octave range and unmatched improvisational skills, the 10-time Grammy Award-winner and 2020 NEA Jazz Master has redefined the role of the human voice. Drawing on classical, rhythm and blues, jazz, pop and world music, he has explored unconventional ideas and projects, including his 1988 pop hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” in which he dubbed his voice over eight tracks with no other instruments or accompanists.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, March 12: Arguably one of the greatest jazz bands of all time, the 15-member Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra consists of the finest soloists, ensemble players and arrangers performing now, led by NEA Jazz Master, composer and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. The group’s SCP Jazz program, titled “Voices of Freedom: Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone,” is directed by JLCO trombonist Chris Crenshaw and features new, big band arrangements of essential works by some of the 20th century’s most powerful female singers and songwriters. Joining the band are special guest vocalists Melanie Charles, Shenel Johns and Ashley Pezzotti in songs written and made famous by legendary vocalists Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone.
In addition to the SCP Jazz series concert, the JLCO residency includes educational activities, as well as an SCP Special Concert on March 11 celebrating the centennials of pianist Dave Brubeck and saxophonist Charlie Parker.
Cécile McLorin Salvant, April 16: Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist Competition, the singer quickly established herself as an artist worthy of acclaim. In addition to her wide range and unwavering control, she is regarded for her sincere storytelling that’s set off with wit and gravitas in equal measure. Her program will feature original compositions as well as reinvigorated jazz standards.
Maria Schneider Orchestra, Data Lords, April 23: A Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master, the composer-conductor and her 18-piece jazz orchestra present Data Lords, her latest project, which will be released as a double album on June 5. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, and melding jazz and classical ideas in new ways, Data Lords is Schneider’s musical response to the impact that the data-driven digital world has on humanity.
Dave Holland, May 21: For the first half of the concert, the bassist and NEA Jazz Master performs with pianist and fellow NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron — a duo that has been trading riffs seamlessly for more than three decades. For the second half, guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Obed Calvaire join Holland for a dynamic, high-energy performance showcasing the technical capabilities and driving elegance of these jazz heavyweights.
Danilo Pérez, with Global Messengers and Children of the Light, June 11: The Panamanian-born pianist and composer joins his international chamber group Global Messengers for a performance of his latest work, Fronteras, a three-movement piece that traces short stories about migration and demonstrates the importance of building community through music. For the program’s second half, Pérez performs with his trio Children of the Light, featuring longtime collaborators from their days in Wayne Shorter’s quartet, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade.
Along with the 2020-21 SCP Jazz lineup, several Symphony Center Presents Special Concerts have been announced. To kick off its annual residency, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will appear in an SCP Special Concert on March 11 celebrating the centennials of Charlie Parker and Dave Brubeck. Additionally, on Jan. 26, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Branford Marsalis will perform a program that explores the intersection of the jazz and classical genres. Legendary tabla player Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion will return April 2.
For additional information about 2020-21 SCP Jazz concerts, please, click here.