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Black history: Jazz ‘Awakening’

Ken Chaney’s Awakening with Ari Brown – and an award for longtime jazz advocate Geraldine de Haas – are highlights of a Black History Month program Saturday presented by the jazz staff of WHPK-FM.

Also featuring vocalist Milton Suggs and excerpts from the film “A Great Day in Harlem,” the program starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, at the International House, 1414 E. 59th.  General admission is $10.  Food and drink will be available.

An underground favorite in the early 1970s, featuring hard bop originals with overtones of soul and the musical freedom of the period, Chaney’s band Awakening was a big hit at a 25th anniversary reunion at the 1998 Chicago Jazz Festival and has continued to work together since.

Chaney and Brown, who are among Chicago’s top jazz masters, are original members of the band, and they are joined by the powerful Pharez Whitted on trumpet, Joshua Ramos on bass, and Ernie Adams on drums. This show is highly recommended.

De Haas, known as the “Jazz Lady,” has a long and varied career. In the 1950s she and her brother and sister formed Andy and the Bey Sisters, a popular jazz vocal group, and in the 1970s she began a successful career in theater.  In the 1980s she founded Jazz Unites, which has presented the South Shore Jazz Festival for nearly 30 years.

De Hass will receive the REACH Award from WHPK’s jazz programmers, and she’s expected to talk about her next big project, said Yamaide Ann Morrow, jazz format chief at the station.

WHPK 88.5 (with which I’ve been associated off and on), “the pride of the South Side,” is sponsored by the University of Chicago.  Its jazz shows, programmed by deeply knowledgeable enthusiasts drawn from across the South Side, are really excellent, kind of a people’s jazz almanac that always swings.  And now they can be heard everywhere, streaming live on the web at, weekday evenings and much of the weekend.

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Category: arts, history

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2 Responses

  1. Brenda Phillips says:

    Very nice and to the point. I have not seen Curtis Black in a while. I remember meeting him in the Apartment Lounge on 75th. street years ago. We exchanged business cards. I told him then that I was an announcer on WHPK. I think he still plays at the Tap on 55th. street.

  2. Curtis says:

    Thanks Brenda. I think I remember seeing you at the Hyde Park Jazz Fest a couple years ago. I’ll have to try to catch your show. And yes we’re still at Jimmy’s – 20 years now. PS the concert was fantastic!

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