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updated: 7/8/2011 1:14 PM

Jazz Fest transforms downtown Glen Ellyn

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  • Glen Ellyn's fifth annual Jazz Fest runs from 3 to 10 p.m. today in the heart of downtown.

    Glen Ellyn's fifth annual Jazz Fest runs from 3 to 10 p.m. today in the heart of downtown.
    Daily Herald file photo

By Meghan Keenan

Stroll into downtown Glen Ellyn today and you'll see the village's own version of "Transformers."

For one day only, the urban streetscape along Main Street will become a bit of a garden oasis that will serve as the setting for Glen Ellyn Jazz Fest.

For the festival's fifth year, Main Street, between Crescent and Pennsylvania, will be closed to make way for a huge tree that will be brought in to serve as the center of a large gardenscape.

Hursthouse, a landscaping firm, will redesign the whole look of downtown to create the perfect environment for the festival.

Every year, Hursthouse does it a little differently, said Roland Raffel of the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage. There is usually a large variety of plants and a water feature; the garden part will take up about one-third the length of Main. There will be an open seating area and another area with about 400 folding chairs.

The McAninch Arts Center and WDCB public radio from the College of DuPage, along with White Space Design and the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce, present the event each year.

"It takes all the partners and their expertise in different areas to pull it off," Raffel said.

"The McAninch Arts Center and WDCB radio spend a lot of time looking at different artists," Raffel said. "The theme or mission of what we try to do for this event is to showcase different artists from Chicago, either legends or up-and-coming artists, and bring them to the suburbs."

Performances start at 3 p.m. and continue throughout the day until 10 p.m.

This year, Two for Brazil will be performing first. Their style of jazz combines the talents and backgrounds of Brazilian-born singer and guitarist Paulinho Garcia and tenor saxophone and flute player Greg Fishman.

Jazz vocalist Alison Ruble has a style reminiscent of classic jazz, but infused with modern strains. She performs regularly throughout the Chicago area and headlined the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2008. She will be joined in her performance in Glen Ellyn by jazz guitarist John McLean.

Ortbert Davis, a gifted trumpeter, composer and co-founder of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, will be performing with his quintet.

Marshall Vente, hailed as one of the finest pianists in Chicago, is also a composer and leader of several ensembles. He will be playing with his band, Tropicale, bringing Brazilian and Latin flair to their jazz style.

The Mike Allemana Organ Quartet will be last to perform. The quartet will consist of Allemana on guitar, Dan Trudell on the Hammond B-3 organ, Mike Schlick on drums and Scott Burns on the jazz saxophone.

"Instead of promoting national artists, we think there's a lot of wonderful artists in the Chicagoland area, and we want to showcase them," Raffel said.

The festival is unique every year with different performers and styles of jazz and a different streetscape.

"Every year it has grown; last year's audience was around 6,000 people," Raffel said.

Admission is free, but donations help keep the fest alive.

Vendors will be selling food from The Tap House Grill, beer from Two Brothers Brewery and wine from Cabernet & Company. For its first year, I Have a Bean will be at the festival selling coffee drinks and smoothies.