Chris Sweda

Catch the legendary pianist Ramsey Lewis at Ravinia on Wednesday, August 28. 

The Chicago Jazz Festival kicks off three-and-a-half days of free music in Millennium Park this Thursday night with a performance by the legendary drummer and Chicago native Jack DeJohnette.

But jazz fans don't have to wait until then to start warming up—like many weeks this summer, the short one leading up to the opening notes of the Festival is packed with great shows all over town.



The keyboardist Jim Baker plays an electronic-laden solo set as part of the official pre-Fest solo recital series at the PianoForte Foundation.
408 S. Michigan #825. 5:30pm. FREE (reservations required).

Local treasure Patricia Barber does her regular (read: extraordinary) Monday night thing in Uptown at the Green Mill.
4802 N. Broadway. 9pm. $7.

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra brings its big sound to the relatively small room at Andy’s.
11 E. Hubbard. 5:15pm and 7pm. $15.

Catch a free screening of the 1986 film ‘Round Midnight, featuring an Oscar-nominated star turn from the saxophonist Dexter Gordon, at the Chicago Cultural Center.
78 E Washington. 6pm. FREE.



One of the jazz bargains of the summer is the chance to hear the up-and-coming pianist Aaron Diehl in an early-evening indoor set for just $10 at Ravinia.
418 N. Sheridan in Highland Park. 6pm. $10.

It’s Justin Dillard’s turn behind the keys for the solo piano series at PianoForte.
408 S Michigan #825. 5:30pm. FREE (reservations required).

The al fresco Tuesdays on the Terrace series continues on the back patio of the Museum of Contemporary Art with the wonderful vocalist Dee Alexander.
220 E Chicago. 5:30pm. FREE.

The powerhouse trumpeter Marquis Hill plays The Whistler.
2421 N Milwaukee. 9:30pm. FREE.

It’s genre-blurring and instrumental prowess of the highest degree with Eastern Blok at the Jazz Showcase.
806 S Plymouth Court. 8pm and 10pm. $10.

The Neighborhood Nights series of free pre-Fest concerts concludes with a Tribute to Walter Dyett at (where else?) DuSable High School.
4934 S. Wabash. 6pm. FREE.



The pre-Fest recital series at PianoForte concludes with an evening of solo boogie-woogie piano at its best, compliments of the veteran master of the form, Erwin Helfer.
408 S. Michigan #825. 5:30pm. FREE (reservations required).

Local favorite Ramsey Lewis takes the stage with special guest Natalie Cole at Ravinia.
418 N. Sheridan in Highland Park. 7pm. $22-$65.

The annual Jazz Club Tour shuttles jazz fans to and from a dozen different clubs all over the city for one cover charge.
Various routes and locations. 6pm to 12am. $30-$35.