The only four-year, public university on the South Side is winding down its fifth annual jazz series that features local artists, such as Marquel Jordan, and high school bands.
Garland Hennings, 78, attended with his wife for the first time this year.
“I’ve heard about the concerts before but never came until now. And I’m glad I did because it is really nice,” said Hennings. “Now that I am retired you can look for me to come every week.”
The Jazz in the Grazz at Chicago State University, 9500 S. King Drive, runs from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesdays and began June 17 and ends Sept. 2. Admission to the outdoor event is $5 plus an additional $5 for parking. Food, non-alcoholic beverages and lawn chairs are allowed and doors open at 5 p.m. Season passes are also available for $50.
So far Avain Hightower, Dee Alexander, Ray Silkman, Milton Suggs, Carlos Cannon, and Margaret Murphy have all performed. On Wednesday Marquel Jordan, who worked at the Chicago Defender before launching his jazz career, will perform and on Sept. 2 Terisa Griffin will close out the summer series.
CSU President Wayne Watson said he wants everyone to experience what the university has to offer the community.
“To anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to attend, make next Wednesday your first time,” said Watson. “Bring a friend, bring a picnic basket or try one of our food trucks, and bring a simile because you’re going to have a great time.”
Troi Tyler, a music professor at CSU and a former host at 107.5 FM (WGCI), and Kwesi Harris, who heads up CSU’s African American Male Resource Center, are the masters of ceremonies.
One thing Hennings said he likes about the jazz series is its South Side location.
“It’s good to have something in your own neighborhood and not have to travel downtown,” added Hennings a South Shore resident.
According to Thomas Wogan, a spokesman for CSU, there are very few South Side venues that offer residents arts and entertainment.
“I think many of the communities surrounding CSU are underserved in many ways, including in arts and culture,” he said. “That is why we feel the CSU has a strong obligation to be a place where local residents have the opportunity to come together and enjoy great music in the company of friends.”
The purpose of the concerts, explained Wogan, is to build a relationship with the community.
“CSU prides itself on being a cultural beacon in the area and one way to show that, and to show off our beautiful campus, was to start a summer concert series,” Wogan told atombash.com. “The purpose is to give our friends and neighbors an outdoor concert experience each week. We call it Ravinia on the South Side.”
The Ravina is an outdoor venue in north suburban Highland Park that host a series of summer concerts each year.
Jazz fan Lawrence Smith, 46, said he has been attending Jazz in the Grazz for the last four years.
“It is an awesome event. I love music and being outdoor,” said Smith. “I encourage other people to come out because this is a hidden jewel.”