The Drum Divas, a multi-generational group of women who perform in the African Drum tradition.
Drum Divas Credit: Courtesy of the City of Chicago's Department of Culture and Special Events

In 2019, Chicago event producer and teacher Alejandro Ayala, who DJs as King Hippo, received a grant from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to produce a two-night concert series called the Preservation of Fire. The concerts, hosted by Co-Prosperity in Bridgeport and broadcast live on Worldwide FM and Lumpen Radio, were immersive experiences that spotlit the sort of music that King Hippo tends to play on his radio shows; he stacked each bill with local improvisers and boundary-pushing musicians, including audacious jazz-pop fusion band Resavoir and saxophonist and visual artist Eliel Sherman Storey. This is music that isn’t afraid to explore—you may want to make sure your shoes are laced up tightly, so they don’t fall off as the sounds whoosh you up into the stratosphere. Ayala continues to use the Preservation of Fire moniker, and his latest event is part of the Millennium Park Summer Music Series at Pritzker Pavilion. The evening will open with Drum Divas, a local ensemble of women who perform traditional African drum music, and the headliners are multi-instrumentalist Joshua Abrams and his entrancing Natural Information Society, a loose jazz- and psych-influenced collective that for this performance will include legendary saxophonist Ari Brown. When I spoke to Ayala in March, he talked about the importance of respecting and taking care of Chicago’s music, calling musicians “treasures for the city.” Likewise, this showcase promises to deliver a treasure trove of sonic pleasures.

The Preservation of Fire featuring Natural Information Society (lineup for this concert will be Joshua Abrams, Ari Brown, Lisa Alvarado, Mikel Patrick Avery, Jason Stein, Nick Mazzarella, and Mai Sugimoto), Drum Divas, and host King Hippo, Mon 8/23, 6 PM, Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph, free, all-ages.