Jazz Society returns to HP

Dee Alexander accepts some flowers from the audience as she performs Sunday night.

Contributing writer

“We are back,” said Judith Stein as she took the stage at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. W., and proclaimed the return of the Hyde Park Jazz Society’s Jazz on Sundays series.

The house was full, row after row of jazz-lovers anticipating the performance of vocalist Dee Alexander and guitarist John McLean in their new collaborative effort, the Alexander McLean Project.

The return to Hyde Park has taken awhile, it has been about a decade since the Society last produced a Sunday evening event in Hyde Park.

“It was roughly 2009 [that] we were locked out of the Checkerboard,” said Stein as she recounted the history of the Jazz on Sundays’ performances.

John McLean performs during the Hyde Park Jazz Society’s inaugural Sunday night. (Photos by Marc Monaghan)

After leaving the Checkerboard, which, in a deal brokered by University of Chicago under the leadership of then president Donald Randel, had been brought to Hyde Park from its storied location on 43rd Street in Bronzeville in the fall of 2005, the HPJS moved Jazz on Sundays to Room 43 in the North Kenwood Oakland neighborhood.

Excluding about a year and a half of moving through various venues around the South Side in 2011 and 2012, Jazz on Sundays remained at Room 43 until March of this year, when a fire forced the HPJS to find a new location for the production.

“Everybody is so excited,” said Stein describing the oct. 27 crowd at The Promontory.

“There is nowhere I have been where I haven’t had somebody come up to me and say ‘I am so excited. And I won’t have to drive too; I can walk over.’”

In addition to Jazz on Sundays at The Promontory, the HPJS produces Third Tuesdays at Café Logan on the University of Chicago campus, and is one of the founders and sponsors of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival.

Information about the Hyde Park Jazz Society, its productions and memberships can be found at hydeparkjazzsociety.com.