Photo: Courtesy of Marquis Hill
The weather is taking a much-delayed turn for the better. But soon, it will be hot. And that’s why it’s so fantastic that NextGenJazz, from the Jazz Institute of Chicago, goes on inside the luxurious Drake Hotel.
The building itself is a Jazz Age gem, and the program is designed to attract the next generation of listeners, with the forward-thinking sounds of some of the brightest young lights on the Chicago jazz scene.
This year’s schedule once again gives these ascendant players a chance to hold down month-long Thursday night residencies in a high-profile room. The series began last month with the dynamic drummer and bandleader Makaya McCraven and it only gets better from there. Here’s a roundup of what’s coming in the months ahead.
May 16: Marquis Hill
Like McCraven, the 25-year-old trumpeter is hardly an unknown quantity to Chicago jazz fans, popping up on bandstands all around the city in his own groups and others, and having released his second album as a leader, Sounds of the City, late last year.
June 6, 13, and 20: Junius Paul
The relative anonymity of his chosen instrument may be the only reason why the bassist’s name might not ring a bell for listeners. It’s been hard to miss his presence around town, otherwise, as he’s laid down the bottom line for everyone from Corey Wilkes to Dee Alexander to Ernest Dawkins.
July 4, 11, and 18: Christopher McBride
A compatriot of Hill who has appeared on both of the trumpeter’s recordings and shares frontline duties in his Black-tet group, the alto saxophonist steps out to lead his own ensemble.
NextGenJazz concerts take place on Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Palm Court at the Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton. FREE. The series goes on hiatus in August, before picking up again with bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst in September and saxophonist Rajiv Halim in October. Visit thedrakechicago.com or jazzinchicago.org for more information.