Although it’s traditionally overshadowed by the Chicago Jazz Festival in Grant Park, the annual African Festival of the Arts in Washington Park remains one of the season’s most interesting events, largely serving the African-American community with a diverse array of music. Jazz, soul, hip-hop, funk, and African music are all amply represented by some of the leading names in each field, even if some of them are well past their peaks. Some of the highlights playing through the long weekend:
A veritable who’s who in jazz-flavored soul convenes on Saturday at 5 PM with a Dusty Groove-worthy set featuring vibist Roy Ayers, keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith, (not one but two) flutists Hubert Laws and Bobbi Humphrey, and vocalists Jon Lucien and Jean Carne.
On Sunday the great alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson performs, while Monday features a Dizzy Gillespie ghost band with enough star power to rival anything in Grant Park this weekend–trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonists Jimmy Heath, Gary Smulyan, and James Moody, and pianist Cyrus Chestnut, among others, will play some of the trumpet legend’s classic tunes and arrangements.
Zimbabwe’s two greatest bandleaders play Sunday (Thomas Mapfumo) and Monday (Oliver Mtukudzi), while Puerto Rican plena revivalists Plena Libre and Congolese star Kanda Bongo Man both peform on Saturday. A roll call of local hip-hop talent, as well as some solid out-of-towners, play all weekend long: Detroit’s Slum Village, old-school hero Kool Moe Dee, and Gang Starr MC Guru perform Saturday, Rhymefest headlines Sunday, and North Carolina’s Little Brother closes things out on Monday. If that isn’t enough, George Clinton plays Sunday and the reconstituted Tony Toni Tone play Monday.
You can find info about location, line-up, and tickets here.