Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chicago Jazz Festival 2014


A view of the Chicago skyline north of Millennium Park
Chicago's skyline is one of the world's most beautiful, on an enormous lake with architectually memorable buildings near the shore, and almost all parkland between the lake and the buildings.  Off shore, yeah, while out on the lake in a boat, it's incredible to see.  It's equally incredible to be in one of the downtown parks experiencing it.

Chicago has various music festivals during the summer months like Blues Fest and Gospel Fest, to name just two.  This week the giants of jazz came to perform in Pritzker Pavilion for the 36th annual Chicago Jazz Festival.

Millennium Park, in spite of its massive production cost overruns, is a great park and home to the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion.  No matter how you put it -- a great sound system or fantastic acoustics -- it's a terrific place to attend a musical performance.  There is a large expanse of lawn behind the pavilion or else one can buy a ticket or, for a few events, queue up (sometimes hours) in advance to get a free seat closer to the stage.  I am a fan of the seats but they're not always easy to come by and so last night we sat on the lawn.

The sound system is very good back there in the middle of the lawn.  The jumbotron on the stage let those of us back there really see the performers.  It is a very good system.  What is not a good system:  the people around us who would not shut up.  On my side of the blanket, I was sitting closer to two married couples who had loud, animated conversations, including announcing in the middle of Dave Holland and Prism that the White Sox had traded someone they thought was a serviceable player and one of the women bragging about how someone hit on her when she was coming back from the restroom (and her voice could figuratively penetrate titanium although I had no titanium on my person to test to out, so it could have been literal but we will never know).  Behind us were a group of ladies who never stopped their ongoing descriptions of anything and everything.  Everyone actually managed to be quieter when Esperanza Spalding -- performing with Tom Harrell's Color of a Dream -- sang.  When we arrived, they were all paying equally little attention to Gary Burton with his young, talented musical co-conspirators (who were all very good).  The ground beneath the blanket managed to get even harder and lumpier.  It was still a very nice evening for a show.

The above is right at dusk, my iPhone angled up to not show much of the crowd in the panorama.  It's looks like how the night was in my imagination -- breathtaking, fascinating, peaceful, and awesome.

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