Free Jazz Concerts in Chicago 

We have to support the arts if we want them to survive. I know a lot of college students and musicians who want to support the arts, but financially it can be expensive. So I’ve created a list of venues and dates where you can watch a show for little to no money. Hope this helps anyone who wants to support music, but has a tight budget. 

Jazz Showcase

I love the Jazz Showcase so much. So many great performances happen here from local legends to well known acts. If you just want to hear live music every month there are at least a couple of free performances which are usually sponsored by WDCB. Even when there is a cover charge it’s usually 5-15 dollars and even cheaper if you have a student ID. Check them out. 

Green Mill

The Green Mill is usually a little more expensive than the Jazz Showcase, but they also have more consistent free shows. On Thursday’s from 5:30-8:00pm you can check out Andy Brown’s Guitar Cocktail Hour Show, Friday’s feature “The Flipside Show” from 5:30-8:00 pm, and early Saturday morning (after 2am) the Sabertooth Organ Quartet is free. So the Green Mill offers perhaps the most diverse and consistent options for listening to live music for free. 

Other Options

Many other jazz venues have free to very affordable options that are also worth considering. The Whistler has a lot of shows that are free and many feature jazz fusion. Places like Emporium Arcade Bar and Winter’s Jazz Club also have free shows from time to time. They don’t have them as regularly as the other venues, but it’s definitely worth checking out the calendar.

There is no excuse to not listen to live music in Chicago. Even if your budget is tight, there are a multitude of options where you can support your favorite musicians for little to no money. While attending these performance I do advise you to at least buy a drink or two. If you didn’t spend any money getting in please consider buying AND TIPPING your waiter/ waitress. Having a good turnout and a happy staff is a major key for musicians. Even if the turnout is low having a lot of alcoholic beverages sold and a pleasant crowd means the band is more likely to get a call to come back again. If the audience is rowdy and cheap when the manager asks the staff how last night was they will be sure to tell them. So please support the arts, go to a live show, buy a beer, and tip your servers. 

Desert Island Albums 

Stranded on a desert island what five albums would you bring with you? I do a lot of listening to music and approach music from so many different angles, but the idea of what would make a good desert island album never crossed my mind. It would have to be an album that I could listen to forever without getting sick of, it would have to have a diverse set of tunes, and do something the other 4 selections don’t. I didn’t really put any restrictions on myself when thinking of a desert Island album other than no cheating with box sets and things of that nature. So without further ado here is my list of Desert Island Albums in no particular order

John Coltrane- Giant Steps 


I knew Coltrane would be on this list I just wasn’t sure which album. I picked Giant Steps because it has so many classic tunes on it; the title track, “Naima”, “Countdown”, “Mr P.C” and one of my personal favorites, “Syeeda’s Song Flute”. Not even my favorite Coltrane album, but more on that later.

Charles Mingus – Ah Um 


I chose this album primarily because of its variety of music. With tributes to Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington, ballads like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, and the soulful opener “Better Git In Your Soul”, this album is a brief history of Jazz music. On a desert island this album would feed that desire of hearing different types of jazz music while still being able to listen to a cohesive record.


John Coltrane- A Love Supreme 


This album changed my life. I wouldn’t be a jazz musician if it wasn’t for this album. The minute I heard “Resolution” was the first time I heard real jazz. It left me speechless, and opened up a whole new world to me. On a desert island this seminal album would remind me of why I love jazz in the first place.


Miles Davis – Kind of Blue


Another classic and one of the first jazz albums I loved. This album has been a constant in my life. I go through good stretches where I’m either listening to it on a daily basis or I end up having to play or teach tunes from this album. Can’t imagine not having this in my life or on an island.


Robert Glasper- In My Element 


This isn’t even my favorite Glasper album, but I feel like I would need to have some Glasper in my life. I love the progress Glasper represents for Jazz and music in general. My favorite album from Glasper is either Black Radio 1 or 2, but I love his Trio work so I’d take In My Element on the desert island and be just fine.

What albums would you take with you on a desert island? Would love to hear which albums you’d take that I didn’t and why. Leave a comment below or message me your desert island albums.

Continue reading “Desert Island Albums “

First Listen: Branford Marsalis “I Heard You Twice The First Time”

Earlier this month I did a First Listen of Branford Marsalis’ album I Heard You Twice The First Time. I live tweeted the experience on my twitter @EdwinGarcia88 here are some of the tweets:

And now that I’ve had some time to listen back to the album I’d like to share with you my overall thoughts. I was genuinely surprised with how much I enjoyed this album. I like the Blues as much as the next person, but sometimes an entire album can become tiresome and repetitive. I Heard You Twice The First Time was neither of these things. It was refreshing and changed just enough track by track to keep me interested. Whether it’s the social issues brought up in “Brother Trying to Catch a Cab”, the killer guitar solo on “B.B. Blues”, or the monk inspired tune “Straight from the Ghetto”, I always wanted more.
This album was an absolute pleasure to listen to, and if you’re even remotely in the mood for some blues this album should quench that thirst. The album spans a little over an hour, but feels relatively short. I would consider this album one of Branford Marsalis’ hidden gems, it has good but not glowing reviews and can be found in most record stores for a low price. Pick it up if you can or stream it on your favorite platform.

Best of January

January has started of well jazz wise. A handful of quality album were released and even more albums are planned for release in the upcoming months that I’m excited about.  So without further ado let’s get into the best album of January.

Chris Thile  & Brad Mehldau- Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau


I don’t know what’s been happening to me, but I’ve listened to more Brad Mehldau in the last 6 months than I have my entire life. Not really sure why, but either way Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau is another great one. This album is a unique combination of jazz and Americana blended together by Chris Thile. To me he really makes this album special. His playing on “The Watcher is inspiring and his vocals on “Scarlet Town” really capture the essence of the album. This is my favorite album from January and I hope there will be more collaborations from this duo in the future.

Jorge Rossy & Javier Vercher – Filantropia

This late January release is another collaboration between two jazz veterans. This album has everything from swing to latin music to ballads. The diversity of music makes this feel more like an experience and an experiment than a standard jazz album. A couple noteworthy highlights are “Cleptocracia” and “Linear Distance”.

Jacopo Ferrazza Trio- Rebirth

Rebirth definitely has more of a traditional jazz feel to it than the other top albums of January. This becomes apparent with tracks like  “Blind Painter” and “Pirandello Madness” fantastic original tunes that are captivating. Rebirth is a short and sweet record that is a pleasure to listen to, maintains jazz traditions while still creating original music, and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. I have a feeling I’ll be listening to Rebirth for months and years to come.

Other Notables:
John abercrombie: Up and Coming
Theo Bleckmann: Elegy

Jazz Loop Update

The Jazz Loop officially turned 4 on Sunday and I’m so thrilled this blog has been running for so long. Writing these posts and interacting with all of you online and in person has truly been a joy. Now as we begin a new year on The Jazz Loop, I’ve made some adjustments to the site.

First is the look. I always make yearly changes to the aesthetics of the website and this year is no exception. Hopefully you find the new look clean and improved. All previous categories are staying and operating as they have in the past year. The only exception is First Listen which should be much more consistent as I will be live tweeting my First Listen of an album on the first Monday of each month. A blog post on the experience and my overall views of the album will be posted shortly after. Follow me on Twitter here to be part of the experience.

Things are always subject to change on the Jazz Loop. I might change the site if I find I find a better theme, a category might be redone if it proves ineffective, and new categories can be introduced. The adjustments made this year are minor, but will hopefully improve the site and improve your experience reading it. Can’t wait to see how this site will grow, and can’t wait to talk to all of you about all things Jazz in 2017.

Art Pepper meets The Rhythm Section

The first time I heard anything about Art Pepper was in college. A professor was telling stories of Art Pepper’s life; the multiple wives, the jail time, and of course, the music. My professor spoke fondly of the album Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section. He mentioned how it was the rhythm section for Miles Davis and how well Art Pepper played as the lead. The title stayed stuck in my mind and I purchased it the first chance I got. Now several years later, I’ve decided to revisit the album and give it a full review.

The album is fairly short being nine tunes long and clocking in at 43 minutes. The opening track “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” Starts with a Red Garland piano intro and Pepper takes care of the melody from there. This is a classic jazz album and this is a classic jazz quartet. With such an experienced rhythm section Pepper is really able to express himself and plays the head eloquently. His solo is inspired and blends beautifully with the head. Garland solos next followed by bassists Paul Chambers. The band then proceeds to trade fours before going back into the melody. A classic tune and a fantastic start to the album. There are a couple of other tunes I’d like to highlight from this album, “Waltz Me Blues” is one of my personal favorites. I especially like the piano line that accompanies Pepper. It’s a nice texture that I rarely hear during a solo. “Straight Life” swings so hard! Fast tempos, burning solos, can’t recommend it enough. “Tin Tin Deo” is a fantastic Latin tune and I love Garland’s solo on it.

If you’re in the mood for some classic jazz music in a combo setting this album should suffice. I really don’t have many complaints. Nice variety between tunes, great solos, excellent selection of standards. My only complaint is with audio quality. I have the album on CD and listened to it on Apple Music. The bass lines and even bass solos felt a bit muddy to me. I’ll have to check and see if there is a remastering that solves this issue. Other than that I highly recommend this album.



100 blog posts. Thank you! 

Wow we have just broken past 100 blog posts for the Jazz Loop! Amazing that this milestone was reached just as 2016 drew to a close. When I started this site back in 2013 I really just wanted to reach out to my fellow jazz heads and discuss different topics in the genre and the music industry as a whole. It’s been an amazing 3 plus years and I’m just as dedicated as ever before to bringing you the best content I possibly can. I’ll have a thorough Jazz Loop update later in the month where the website will be revamped and I’ll go in depth on what I have planned for 2017. 
 I’m exited (musically) for this year. I feel I’m ready to bring you more posts than ever before, some of my personal artistic projects are going to be released this year, and being officially done with undergrad, I’m pumped to fully immerse myself in all my works. 

So for now I just want to say thank you. Thank you for those of you that supported this site from the beginning, and thank you to those of you who just began reading The Jazz Loop. Without your comments and views I’m just a madman yelling about jazz. So let’s kick off 2017 and post 101 with positive energy and optimism for the future! 

Best Albums of 2016

2016 had an overwhelming amount of good jazz music. Creating this list of the “Best Albums of 2016” was one of my most challenging blog posts to date. Still, I managed to bring my list down to the top 23 albums of the year. Before my list gets torn apart let me explain a couple of things. One, I have no remastering or reissues on the list. I feel there is enough current music going on that doing so would just take up a spot that could go to actual new music. Same goes for live shows that had no intention of being albums. Some of your favorites probably didn’t make the list. (No Bad Plus! No Jacob Collier! No Joey Alexander! Gasp!) Just because it didn’t make the list doesn’t mean it wasn’t of quality. I just wanted to make a nice, possibly consumable, list and I feel I’m already pushing that idea with 20 plus albums so some albums I loved had to be cut. Also some of those albums weren’t of quality. I didn’t rank the albums I provided my top album of the year first and then the rest of the list is in no particular order. Finally, somethings I just missed. It’s impossible to listen to everything regardless of how much time one spends listening to the latest releases. So this is my list, my favorite albums of 2016, may you enjoy reading about and exploring these albums as I did finding them.

Joshua Redman& Brad Mehldau- Nearness


Saving the best for first. Nearness is my album of the year. Right from the beginning with “Ornithology” we have a special album. The interaction and interplay between these two masters, is a treat to hear. Nearness is the perfect title for this album. With no other instrumentation this is a very intimate album with both musicians only having each other for company and interaction. I feel they complemented and challenged each other equally pushing their limitations, and creating a masterpiece in the process.

Lara Downes- America Again


Brilliant record, a beautiful solo jazz piano performance that will keep you entranced the entire time. Can’t recommend this one enough, especially in the times we are in. “24 Negroe Melodies…” is one of my favorite tunes on this album.


Donny McCaslin- Beyond Now


Saxophonist supreme hailing from New York, Donny McCaslin played a major role in the creation of David Bowie’s Blackstar. He picks up where that record left off and creates one of the most expressive, forward thinking, albums of 2016.

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque- Oddara


This collaboration project blends Cuban rhythms and groves in a jazz setting Continue reading “Best Albums of 2016”

First Listen: Jaco Pastorius Big Band:Word of Mouth Revisited 

Earlier this week I did a First Listen of the album Jaco Pastorius Big Band Word of Mouth Revisited. I’ve never listens to this album before so I live tweeted the experience and placed these tweets below.      





I went into the album with little to no knowledge of what this albums was about. The album is essentially a homage to Jaco Pastorius as the project was recorded post humously using several different bassists and some Jaco arrangements. The album has some really bright spots such as “Havona”, “Teen Town”, and “Punk Jazz Revisited”. “Havona” and “Teen Town” captured the energy of those Weather Report tunes and put these pieces in a big band setting very nicely. The bass playing was also superb. “Punk Jazz Revisited” was fantastically arranged by Marcus Miller and, in my opinion, turned out much better than the original. The liner notes and in depth comments on each piece makes owning the physical copy an added treat. 

Still, despite all this album did right there are somethings I’m not a fan of. The “Jaco Speaks” interludes are distracting, unnecessary, and bordering on tasteless. Your using someone’s voice after there death and making it sound like he’s commenting on the tracks. It just doesn’t sit with me well and makes me wonder if it should even be done. Tracks like “Punk Jazz” and “Barbary Coast” were fairly weak and this album would’ve been much more enjoyable if you just got rid of those tracks completely. 

Overall, I throughly enjoyed listening to this album and will absolutely go back to it again. However, I can’t flat out recommend it to everyone. I think this albums will resonate better with Jaco fans and big band enthusiasts. As long as your expectation is just a nice enjoyable album and you’re not going in thinking you’re going to hear seminal work, you should be fine.  

Also, moving forward, I will be doing First Listens every 1st Monday of the month. So keep an eye out for that and follow me on twitter @EdwinGarcia88 if you’d like to be apart of that experience.