New York is seen as the Mecca of jazz, and will remain so for all times. Still Chicago also has a rich history when it comes to blues, jazz en soul. These past years a surprisingly opulent stream of exciting music is coming from the third largest city of the United States.
These past years a surprisingly opulent stream of exciting music is coming from the third largest city of the United States. And as to avant-garde jazz: the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) was founded in Chicago and is a set value. Muhal Richard Abrams, performing on Sunday, has been one of their most important champions since the 1950s. This tradition of ‘Great Black Music’ is combined in an accessible and natural way with hip hop, funk and R&B by young jazz musicians such as Makaya McCraven, Greg Ward, Marquis Hill and, from a slightly older generation, Steve Coleman. Makaya McCraven has been the support act to Wu-Tang Clan and 50 Cent. Chicagoans Mick Jenkins and Noname represent a fresh generation of socially engaged rappers.
This latest boost to the music scene from Chicago sounds very American. The influences from other parts of the world that you often hear in New York are less obvious here. The focus is on the domestic tradition: jazz, funk, hip hop. This gives the music a concentrated and probing quality.