It began with a rumble, and then a screech, and then a bang. A thumping baseline saddled up beside vocals preaching the gospel of love, while drums echoed against gothic stonework. At Union Church on 56th and Woodlawn, the Hyde Park Jazz festival found its groove.
The first festival was in 2007, a joint project between the Hyde Park Jazz Society and the neighborhood’s cultural leaders. Funded in part by the University of Chicago, and partially by sponsors ranging from Telemundo to Southwest Airlines, the festival relies heavily on grassroots donations, which help fund future fairs and keep the Jazz Society going throughout the year. Venues included the aforementioned Union Church, the Oriental Institute, the Smart Museum, a section of 53rd street, the Midway Plaisance, the Logan Center for the Arts, Rockefeller Chapel, and the Robie House, whose harmoniousÂ shapes provided a fitting home for the sound of mingling horns.
Over on the Midway Plaisance, along the stretch of asphalt between Woodlawn and Ellis, the setting was converted into a carnival-style festival, with a stage on Woodlawn and, new this year, a dance floor on Ellis. Swing jazz swung out of the Ellis stage, where the dance floor gave patrons a chance to gyrate their gams to swooning hits from the pre-war period. The road between the stages was lined with booths. Those at the center sold food, ranging from rib tips to egg noodles. The rest offered more eclectic items–a Cadillac dealership pushing keys for 2012 models and a crash course on Zen meditation.