HYDE PARK — The 14th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival kicks off this weekend with a mix of virtual concerts and small, in-person performances spread throughout the neighborhood.
The festival begins 4 p.m. Saturday with six virtual performances from the Logan Center. The hourly concerts will be livestreamed on the festival’s website and YouTube, and they will not be available beyond Saturday.
Festivities will continue 12:30 p.m. Sunday with 18 mobile and pop-up performances around Hyde Park that require social distancing and masks.
The mobile performances will also be livestreamed on the festival site. In-person attendees are encouraged move around the neighborhood to prevent crowding.
Organizers must find “such a strange balance” as they want people to participate in the festival without attracting too many people to the in-person performances, said Managing Director Olivia Junell.
Plans were in place months ago to organize a collaboration between local composer Tomeka Reid and a group of Ethiopian musicians, who were to travel to Chicago for the festival, said Kate Dumbleton, executive and artistic director.
Staff and supporters “wanted the festival to keep its mark on the weekend we always have it, and not just cancel it entirely or go entirely online,” Dumbleton said. This weekend is the organizers’ best effort to “keep the neighborhood spirit” in the festival while adjusting to pandemic life.
Jazz trumpeter and soul singer Sam Trump will perform Sunday with pianist Justin Dillard — who has been mentored by the legendary jazz experimenters of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians — and drummer Alfonzo Jones.
This is Trump’s second straight year performing at the festival, but his first performing with this trio. They’ll play mashups of jazz and soul songs on the festival’s mobile stage.
“I’m really excited to be able to play with a real drummer,” Trump said, as he’s used rhythms and sounds created with a loop station for his recent solo sets.
Trump, a Canaryville resident, moved to Chicago six years ago. Since then, he’s appreciated the variety of spaces for artists on the South Side, but he fears they will start to disappear due to the pandemic.
The Hyde Park festival, the front yard and driveway performances of Back Alley Jazz in South Shore, socially distanced events at the Stony Island Arts Bank, virtual programming through Arts and Public Life — South Side cultural institutions are adapting quickly, but they need Chicagoans’ support to survive, Trump said.
“There needs to be more of a stimulation of these South Side spaces … to keep them alive and keep them going,” he said. “The Hyde Park Jazz Festival showcases elite talent, and they always have … . It’s the best-run festival I’ve ever been a part of.”
Artists are adapting, too. For the entire month of May and periodically since, Trump held live Midnight Hour sessions on Facebook to build his fanbase. Viewers appreciated the dose of live music at a time when entertainment options are limited, he said.
There’s no wrong way to support artists and encourage their continued creativity through the pandemic, Trump said.
“Whatever the artist you want to support is doing, just jump on it and let them know that you care,” he said.
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