South Side resto-venue The Promontory opened its doors to hungry patrons last month, and the crew even got their gear together in time for a last-minute Lolla after-show. But the Hyde Park hangout’s real allure—as the neighborhood’s first new venue in more than half a century—kicks off this Saturday with the South Side Big Band, a 22-member jazz ensemble dedicated to bringing old South Side sounds to new South Side ears.
Formed by Tom Tom Washington in the 1990s to toast to Chicago’s jazz heyday, the South Side Big Band stands for what the The Promontory signifies: The return of live music to the South Side. In fact, Washington refuses to take his ensemble north of Madison. “I’ve wanted to book them for years,” says Promontory owner Bruce Finkelman, who also hosts concerts at Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village, Thalia Hall in Pilsen, Logan Auditorium in Logan Square. “We tried booking them up north and ran into that—[Tom Tom] wants to stay true to his South Side roots.”
That regional caveat makes Saturday’s performance something of a homecoming (if not a premiere) for the Band; due to the South Side’s (improving) dearth of venues, Washington’s collective has only broken out of the practice space a handful of times.
That said, the Band’s star-studded roster, which includes jazz monuments Gene “Daddy G” Barge, Big Willie Woods, and Art Hoyle of Sun Ra’s Arkestra in collaboration with a number of fresh-faced Millennials, has more than a decade of practice with their belts. Until there’s word of an encore at the Promontory, Saturday might be your first and last chance to see them for a while.
The South Side Big Band plays the Promontory this Saturday, August 16, at 8 p.m. 5311 South Lake Park Ave. West. Tickets: $12-20