Catalina Maria Johnson

International radio broadcaster, bilingual cultural journalist, music curator

sun ra arkestra

A Labor day Weekend tradition for almost four decades, Chicago Jazz Festival offers dozens of free, quality live musical performances to showcase international, national and local talent. Here are a few artists that are true to be special performances. However, don’t hesitate to stop in at any time over the weekend. The fest’s excellent curation means you won’t be disappointed no matter where and when you choose to check the grooves.


Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet

World-renowned trombonist, composer, arranger and producer Wayne Wallace, a six-time Grammy Award-nominee, creates a potent Afro-Latin sound, tinged also with what he learned from playing with greats such as Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins, Tito Puente and Carlos Santana. Wallace, who is on the faculty at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, will be joined by bassist David Belove, pianist Murray Low, conga and percussion player Michael Spiro and drummer Colin Douglas.

Miguel Zenón

Multiple Grammy Award-nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur ‘genius grant’ awardee Miguel Zenon is touring in support of his 9th and latest release “Identities are Changeable”, a stunning jazz and spoken-word project focusing on the cultural identity of the Puerto Rican community in the United States. Zenon has perfected the art of walking a beautiful and fine line mixing modern jazz and the traditional sounds of his native Puerto Rico, and he comes to Jazz Fest leading a quartet which includes brilliant Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo.

Sun Ra Arkestra

Jazz visionary and cosmic traveler Sun Ra, aka Herman Blount, aka Le Sony’r Ra, created beautiful, swinging and highly-textured music that still resounds 100 years after his birth. Chicago was the city where he launched his career, and current and former members of the Sun Ra Arkestra will celebrate his centennial, led by the great alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, who has led the Arkestra since Sun Ra’s death. If you hear the famous Sun Ra chant, “Space is the place!” remember that Chicago is the place where it all started.

Paulinho Garcia Quintet

Beloved singer-guitarist Paulinho Garcia has lived in Chicago for over 30 years, bringing to our city sweet melodic compositions that range from bossa nova to other rhythms from Brazil and draw on his experiences in Chicago as well. Garcia will make an infrequent appearance with his quintet to again weave a delicate romantic spell and surely charm his Chicago fans once more.


Chicago Jazz Festival takes place August 28-31 at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millenium Park, Includes films as well as music — all free!


Catalina explores nuestra cultura via the music on Beat Latino every week. Visit Facebook,  subscribe via iTunes or download the podcast on the archives.

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