By TOM BOWSER
Ben Waltzer played the first show held in Preston Bradley Hall during the 2015, Chicago Jazz Festival. Preston Bradley Hall is located in the Chicago Cultural Center. It is a spectacular looking room with a beautiful dome made of Tiffany Favrile glass. The dome is one of the largest of it's kind. The stunning chandeliers suspended above the main seating area are also made by the Tiffany Glass company of New York. The walls consist of hand inlaid tiles that form intricate mosaics. It has been an especially beautiful room when lit for evening events I've attended, example, "Ragamala" held during the Chicago International Music Festival.
The construction materials used for a room ultimately affect and help determine the acoustics of the room. The acoustics of Preston Bradley Hall are bright/live which makes it one of my least favorite venues in which to listen to amplified music. Performances (sound) within Preston Bradley Hall can become loud in part because of the many hard, reflective surfaces. I prefer Preston Bradley Hall for quieter unamplified/acoustic instruments.
Ben Waltzer assembled a talented crew of musicians to work with for this show. Marquis Hill won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition. He is also the bandleader of a talented group of musicians, "The Blacktet". The Marquis Hill Blacktet is well worth adding to your must see list. Yosef Ben Israel plays with Chicago's own Ari Brown Quintet. Bill McHenry and Gerald Cleaver are both jazz veterans who are currently part of the New York jazz scene.
I grew up listening to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Jan Hammer on keyboards. Ben Waltzer introduced me to a new realm of jazz for piano than I had previously listened to. I liked what I heard. After the show I became motivated to discover more about Ben Waltzer and the music he plays. A crowd favorite (and mine) was Ben Waltzer's interpretation of Chicago pianist Art Hodes composition “Clark and Randolph.”
- Ben Waltzer - Piano
- Bill McHenry - Tenor Saxophone
- Marquis Hill - Trumpet
- Yosef Ben Israel - Double bass
- Gerald Cleaver - Drums
NOTE: Unfortunately, where I was sitting made it difficult to take photos of Ben Waltzer (sorry Ben!). I did manage to take a few pictures of the other band members during the show. I'm NOT a professional photographer (barely a hobbyist) but, hopefully the images help chronicle an enjoyable event.
The Chicago Jazz Festival is one of the largest, high quality, FREE jazz festivals in the United States.