CHICAGO (WBBM) — Underway now through Sunday is Chicago’s Labor Day tradition of the Jazz Festival, which has been expanded this year beyond music to include spoken word performances.

As WBBM Newsradio John Cody reports, other cities have jazz festivals, but only Chicago has big names and no admission.

Leading off the Jazz Festival at the Chicago Cultural Center Thursday afternoon was Rich Corpolongo on tenor sax. He plays from the heart but also thinks about where he fits in the story stream of jazz, playing post era bop.

“Which is a little further, you might say a little more advanced than Charlie Parker’s type of be-bop; the original be-bop, which was in the late 40s. This is, like you might say, more of a Sonny Rollins, late 50s be-bop like Miles (Davis) in the 50s.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Corpolongo’s trio started the show at noon Thursday at the Cultural Center. The festival runs through Sunday.

Friday night’s big show is a tribute to John Coltrane, featuring his son Ravi, at 8 p.m. in Millennium Park.

Other proven talent draws include Cassandra Wilson at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Petrillo Music Shell and Roy Hargrove at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Petrillo.

The shows also include new ways to stretch the imagination, according to festival coordinator Jennifer Washington.

“This year we have poetry as part of the festival. Young poets ‘Louder Than A Bomb’ will be performing in Grant Park during the changeovers on all three day stages,” she said.

Festival organizers are staying on the cutting edge of music by featuring up and comers in the Young Jazz Lions program which will see performances by ensembles from Curie, Jones, Whitney Young and Kenwood High schools, along with the DePaul University Jazz Band.

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