'Round about noon


At 12:09 p.m. Saturday, trumpeter Orbert Davis, wearing a charcoal-gray pinstripe suit, light-gray shirt, and yellow tie, walked onto the stage in the DuSable Museum’s near-full auditorium. Lifting his trumpet to his lips, he blared out a short phrase, paused, looked down, then played another short phrase. A moment later, Stewart Miller’s fingers danced along the neck of his bass and drummer Ernie Adams tapped a few quick hits to his cymbals. Then pianist Ryan Cohan and saxophonist Ari Brown burst into "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," in the opening performance of the first annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, sponsored by the University, the Hyde Park Cultural Alliance, and the Hyde Park Jazz Society.

As Davis and his band boomed out the Oscar Hammerstein II standard, about half the crowd bobbed their heads to Adams’s beat, while a third ruffled through their programs and souvenir bags. When the song ended, Davis looked up at the crowd. “The funny thing is a lot of people think jazz in Chicago ends at Labor Day [when the city hosts its annual Chicago Jazz Festival],” he said. He then pulled his Blackberry out of his inner jacket pocket to take a few pictures of the crowd. “I want to say I was here for the first annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival.”

After two solo-heavy songs, including Miles Davis’s “Miles Ahead,” Davis looked at his wristwatch, saw nearly 50 minutes had elapsed and said, “Wow, how time flies…” One onlooker in the second row let out an audible sigh, dreading the end of show, before Davis and his band launched into a rollicking final number. As Brown soloed, Davis shuffled his feet. When the song ended, the crowd rose for a standing ovation before moving en masse to the Midway Plaisance’s skating rink, the next stop of the 14-hour festival.


Photo: Trumpeter Orbert Davis (left) and saxophonist Ari Brown (right) belt out jazz standards at the first annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival.

October 1, 2007