Three performers at Back Alley Jazz
Credit: Marc Monaghan

In 2018, Back Alley Jazz, an offshoot of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, thrummed the heartstrings of nostalgic south-siders when it resuscitated the popular neighborhood-alley jams that took place in the community from the mid-1960s into the ’70s. Since then, this riff on tradition has become a tradition itself, turning unassuming corridors and street corners into bandstands. In the spirit of the original (and of the HPJF), the event is free to all. As in previous years, the performances will take place around South Shore on a single day. The main “stages,” so to speak (in past years, some performances have been at street level, while others have been on risers), will be located on South Paxton Avenue at East 72nd and East 74th, and between them they’ll host music from noon till 6 PM. The lot next to the Black United Fund on 71st will host the Universal Alley Jazz Jam—a sprawling jam sesh directly in the lineage of the original alleyway jazz tradition—from 3 to 7 PM. While the Hyde Park Jazz Festival showcases artists from around the globe, Back Alley is a more intimate showcase for local acts. The talent includes tap king Jumaane Taylor and his Jazz Hoofing Quartet (1:15 PM at 72nd and Paxton), smooth-singing and -trumpeting phenom Sam Thousand, formerly Sam Trump, with his band the Soul Vortex (5 PM at 74th and Paxton), and inimitable veterans Dee Alexander and John McLean in a vocals-and-guitar duo (6 PM at 74th and Oglesby). Bring your kids and your appetite: food vendors and arts-and-crafts stations will be set up along Paxton. And if you aren’t too sun-beat, save some dance moves for the afterparty at the Quarry.

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Back Alley Jazz This free neighborhood festival features four outdoor stages, participatory art activities such as button making and screen printing, and an indoor afterparty. For more details visit

S. Paxton and 74th, 12:30-5:45 PM, in order of performance: the Tommy Bradford Band, the Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazz Links Ensemble, Rashada Dawan & the Soul Collective, and Sam Thousand & the Soul Vortex

S. Paxton and 72nd, 1:15-5 PM, in order of performance: the Jazz Hoofing Quartet, Sa-Rah, and the Junta Ensemble

Black United Fund lot, 1809 E. 71st, 3-7 PM: Universal Alley Jazz Jam

S. Oglesby and 74th, 6-7 PM: Dee Alexander & John McLean

The Quarry, 2423 E. 75th, 7 PM: afterparty

All times Sat 8/6, free, all ages