Discovering Chicago's Black Heritage by Exploring the Music That Defined It

The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic is hosting a live performance of a film score they created for a Chicago documentary this weekend as part of a Black History Month celebration

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The musical score of the Chicago PBS documentary, "DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis," was written by Orbert Davis, co-founder and artistic director of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

“Most of the film was edited to the music,” says Davis, which is highly unusual. Usually it’s the other way around, with the music edited to the film.   

Mark Ingram, CJP co-founder and producing director told NBC 5, “I got to give it to Dan and Barbara (Dan Andries and Barbara Allen, producers of the film). What they did with putting the music to the film, which I’ve never heard of before, a composer composing without seeing pictures. Genius.“

Davis researched the history and the filmmakers' stories, and came up with ragtime rhythms, big band swing and jazz to create what they are calling a ‘jazz opera.’

The concert will be held Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Kehrein Center for the Arts in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Snippets from the film will be shown during the concert.

Davis told NBC 5, "This gives us an opportunity to not only bring those elements to life, but to relive them again, and that’s the importance of history.”

This is the final production of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s inaugural 3-concert partnership with the Kehrein Center for the Arts (KCA).

Young musicians from CJP’s Jazz Academy will perform in the lobby before the concert, alongside students from Circle Rock Charter School in Austin who participate in the school’s Sistema Ravinia initiative.

As part of the CJP's lifelong commitment to amplifying the importance of diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the arts, CJP is charging $1 per ticket.

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