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Chicago Jazz Fest to visit Roosevelt's Ganz Hall on Friday, Aug. 31

Posted: 08/30/2012
Chicago jazz staple Ken Vandermark and his boyhood idol Joe McPhee will take over Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall on Friday, Aug. 31 as part of the 34th annual Chicago Jazz Festival.

Vandermark, the artist-in-residence for this year’s festival, is a MacArthur Fellowship winner whose music has been described as “complex, demanding and, at its besta deeply satisfying exploration of the outer reaches of jazz experimentation” (Chicago Tribune). The heralded saxophonist was inspired to delve into music as a teenager when father Stu, a musicologist and music writer, played him McPhee’s Tenor, a solo saxophone album recorded in 1976.

“I heard this ballad, ‘Good-Bye Tom B.,’ and literally said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” said Vandermark. “It was so utterly beautiful and melodic, with these amazing multi-phonics. It was like an epiphany.”

After moving to Chicago in 1989, Vandermark began to realize his dream of creating beautiful and melodic music of his own. Since, he has performed and recorded with an array of notable musicians, including McPhee.

McPhee began playing the trumpet at age eight before learning other instruments. His first recording came in 1967, when Vandermark was merely a toddler. Inspired by the music of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman, he eventually taught himself how to play the saxophone. Over the next four decades, McPhee would release six albums and perform with a plethora of renowned jazz musicians, such as Jeb Bishop, Evan Parker and Clifton Hyde.

In 1996, Vandermark brought McPhee to the Empty Bottle for his first-ever performance in Chicago. More than 15 years later, the two still have a strong relationship. The chemistry the two share will be on display at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31 in Ganz Hall on the seventh-floor of Roosevelt’s Auditorium building.

The Chicago Jazz Festival runs Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. For more information, visit