A nonprofit will present a jazz concert that includes Artistic Director Orbert Davis and local elementary students including a group from Cuba.
The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, founded by Davis, is sponsoring the “Scenes from Life: Cuba!” event at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway. The event is open to the public and tickets, which start at $28, are available online or by calling the sales office at 312-341-2300.
Davis said the cultural exchange, now made easier thanks to travel restrictions to Cuba recently eased by United States, allows him to work toward establishing a long-term relationship between the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and Cuba, thus allowing musicians of both countries to dialogue and learn from one another. Last December, Davis and student musicians visited Havana, Cuba the week of the Havana International Jazz Festival.
And Davis said monies raised will be used to help support the organization’s music education programs, such as Jazz Alive.
He added that his organization aims to expose students from urban neighborhoods to jazz music and educate them about its rich history. And the Cuban students will perform with local students at the concert this week.
“There are students at Miles Davis Academy [in Englewood] that do not know Miles Davis was a famous jazz artist,” said Davis. “We want to help put music back into Chicago Public Schools where the arts are slowly disappearing from classrooms.”
According to Maggy Fouche, a spokeswoman for the organization, 11 elementary schools are participating in the Jazz Alive program this year. They are Carl Von Linne; Lionel Hampton Fine and Performing Arts School; Jenner Academy; Higgins; Holden; McDowell; South Loop; Chavez; St. Sabina Academy; Village Leadership Academy; and Armour.
“Although we had planned to be in 14 schools, the actual number changed once the school year got underway,” said Fouche.
The mission of the Jazz Alive program is to institute music learning at the beginning of a student’s formal education by providing a linear track of music instruction and enrichment from kindergarten through college, added Fouche. The program also follows a steady progression of music instruction that focuses on building academic skills and social maturity.
By bringing Cubans to Chicago, Davis said he wants to educate them not only about the city and the United States, but also the history of black jazz artists like Duke Ellington.
“While in Cuba I felt the pulse of the people and now it’s our turn to host Cubans in our country and show them what we’re all about when it comes to music,” added Davis.