Jazz has been big in this city for roughly a century — ever since Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and their New Orleans compatriots brought the music to Chicago, which launched the music globally.
As the city gears up for the 36th annual Chicago Jazz Festival, which opens Thursday, the Tribune will offer comprehensive coverage before, during and after the music-making. In Sunday's Arts + Entertainment section, we discuss how far the festival has come — and how far it has yet to go to achieve an international profile. Through the coming week, we'll offer critical guides to forthcoming performances, interviews with leading figures and reviews of concerts that will light up Millennium Park through Aug. 31.
No Chicago media outlet aims as wide a spotlight on the music, and no newspaper in America devotes more space, resources or energy to jazz than the Tribune. For good reason: Jazz long has been bound up with the social and cultural history of Chicago, the city catapulting Nat "King" Cole, Dinah Washington, Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Ramsey Lewis, Von Freeman, Ahmad Jamal and uncounted others into stardom.
Also in Sunday's A+E: excerpts of "Portraits in Jazz," a new Tribune e-book gathering dozens of profiles of musical giants past, present and future. Spanning the full chronology of the music, from Morton and Armstrong at the dawn of the 20th century to Wynton Marsalis in the 21st, "Portraits in Jazz" documents the dramatic evolution of jazz and the Tribune's exhaustive coverage of it.