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Jazz festival headliners: Toussaint, Reeves, Haynes

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The summer concert season is just getting under way, and today the city announced headliners for one of summer's final music events -- the 34th annual Chicago Jazz Festival.

The multi-venue festival, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, will spotlight drummer Roy Haynes, singer Dianne Reeves and Southern piano legend Allen Toussaint.

The festival opens Aug. 30 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park with the program "Exquisitely For Ella: A Songbook Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald."

Haynes -- a member of Charlie Parker's quintet, a high-demand drummer with numerous stars (Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughn, Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and more) and recent recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Grammy -- is the festival's first headliner at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in Millennium Park. Haynes, 87, will be playing with his band, the Fountain of Youth.

Sept. 1-2 performances will be back in the festival's original home in Grant Park, featuring four-time Grammy winner Reeves (8:30 p.m. Sept. 1), a former vocalist with Harry Belafonte and a bright spot on the soundtrack to the film "Good Night, and Good Luck," followed by Toussaint (8:30 p.m. Sept. 2) and his "Bright Mississippi" band, a New Orleans tribute project that includes session guitarist Marc Ribot and innovative woodwind player Don Byron.

Chicago saxophone icon Ken Vandermark is the festival's artist-in-residence this year, performing throughout the event, including performances scheduled at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The action begins even earlier, though, with warm-up events called "Chicago Jazz Festival: Neighborhood Nights" scheduled around the city in July and August.

All performances, in both downtown parks, are free. A complete schedule of events will be available June 1. The jazz fest is presented by Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

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Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.

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