The Chicago Jazz Festival draws large crowds to Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center each year over Labor Day weekend. This year will be the 39th anniversary of the free event. Although the masses certainly come out to the park for the festival, does it have a positive influence on jazz music consumption in the rest of the city? Chicago cultural commissioner Mark Kelly thinks it could be doing better.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mark Kelly held a meeting last Friday with many of the city’s music industry professionals in attendance, including venue owners, talent buyers, radio programmers, artists and managers, and music promoters.

In addition to driving attendance to the Labor Day weekend event itself, the Chicago Jazz Festival is meant to introduce more people to jazz music so that they support it at their local clubs the rest of the year. The City of Chicago states, “the festival’s mission is to showcase Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages.”

However, the event can sometimes cause local clubs to compete with the festival.

It can be difficult for promoters to bring fans out to their club shows, when fans can see an awesome lineup of acts for free at the festival. Many club owners and talent buyers have been battling this issue for years.

chicago jazz festival

This year, Mark Kelly wants the jazz fest to highlight individual venues and promoters. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will assist venues in booking talent that is already playing the festival.

Since the artists are already being flown in and have accommodations for the weekend, it will be less costly to book them for a club night while they are here. Festival headliners include Jon FaddisDr. Lonnie Smith Trio, Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom, and Rebirth Brass Band. The festival also plans to promote these additional club and concert hall shows during the festival itself, including on the large screen at Pritzker Pavilion in the park.

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