Ravinia is celebrating the milestone birthdays of two central figures in jazz: Frank Sinatra, who would be 100, and 80-year-old Ramsey Lewis, who has been Ravinia’s artistic director of jazz since 1993. The May 16 concert on the $10 BGH Classics series will feature the greatest hits of these perennial favorites. Over his tenure, Lewis has helped ensure that the future of jazz in his hometown of Chicago will continue to burn bright through the organization two decades ago of (and his continued involvement with) the Ravinia Jazz Scholars, one of the earliest initia-tives of the festival’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs.
The Jazz Scholars comprise over a dozen of the best high-school jazz musicians in Chicago Public Schools, selected to work with a host of the city’s finest professionals, including Willie Pickens, Bobby Broom and Ernie Adams. Some of these young musicians have gone on to become fellows in the RSMI Program for Jazz, Ravinia’s intensive summertime studio for honing these artists’ ensemble techniques. A band of talented alumni from both programs, led by trumpeter Marquis Hill—who head-lined the $10 BGH Classics series last spring, recently won the Theloni-ous Monk International Trumpet Competition, and is himself an alum-nus of both programs—will pay tribute to both jazz legends through the music that made them such inspirations for generations to come, includ-ing Sinatra’s classic croons, Come Fly with Me, Fly Me to the Moon and It was a Very Good Year.
In addition, Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman will join Rav-inia Jazz Scholar Alexis Lanier (a senior at Whitney Young High School) to perform a medley of Lewis’s hits—an arrangement by Andy Chukerman that features The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water—for which the duo recently earned a standing ovation at Mil-lennium Park.