“Depending on your point of view, the Chicago Jazz Festival provides:
A. A glorious way to spend Labor Day weekend — for free.
B. A rare opportunity to sample a broad swath of jazz, from traditional to avant-garde.
C. A musical gathering that doesn’t come close to living up to its potential.
I’d argue that the 37th annual event, which runs Thursday through Sept. 6 at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park, merits all those descriptions. For though our city’s most high-profile jazz fest features top musicians playing one of the country’s finest outdoor venues — Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion — the festival’s achievements, alas, are counterbalanced by its limitations.
What we get to hear, in other words, is well worth savoring. What doesn’t happen, however, prevents the Chicago Jazz Festival from ranking alongside the biggest and best counterparts in North America and beyond.“