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CJE Announces “Great Chicago Tenor Saxes”

The Chicago Jazz Ensemble announced the second program of the Sixth American Heritage Series, which is themed “The Roots of Chicago Jazz.” The program is titled “Great Chicago Tenor Saxes” and will feature Johnny Griffin (pictured), Von Freeman, Ira Sullivan, Franz Jackson and Eric Alexander, along with the CJE.

Griffin was born in Chicago in 1928 and played with the bands of Lionel Hampton and Joe Morris and played regularly with Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. Despite moving to Europe in 1963 and becoming a fixture on the Paris jazz scene, Griffin visited the United States often and recorded for Blue Note, Riverside, Atlantic and Verve, among others.

Freeman grew up in Chicago’s South Side with a musical family whose friends included Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. After breaking the horn off his father’s Victoria and playing it like a saxophone, his father relented and bought him a real one; by age 12, Freeman was playing in nightclubs.

Multi-instrumentalist Sullivan plays trumpet, a variety of reeds and saxophone and has played the Chicago scene with Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Art Blakely. Sullivan currently resides in Florida and plays throughout the Miami area.

Jackson studied at the Chicago Musical College and has collaborated with Roy Eldridge and Fletcher Henderson and toured with Earl Hines.

Alexander began playing piano, then switched to also saxophone and while studying at Indiana University, switched again to tenor sax. He then moved to New York City and enrolled at William Patterson College in New Jersey for advanced jazz study.

The performance will take place at the Art Institute of Chicago on March 19; tickets and more information can be found at

Originally Published