Hey Nonny to Host Womens Jazz Festival in January

Not all the good gifts will be given during the Holiday season. Hey Nonny, the vibrant music venue and bistro in downtown Arlington Heights, has a special gift for jazz lovers saved up for early January as they present their first Women's Jazz Festival. Festival events will take place January 6-8, with each day featuring both free and ticketed shows. The festival will highlight female jazz musicians from near and far.

"Do a quick search for a women's jazz festival and you'll find one in Palm Springs and nothing else," said Hey Nonny co-owner Chip Brooks. "We've been blessed to have a bunch of great women jazz players at Hey Nonny, but you don't have to look very hard to see that the jazz world is not an easy place for women or folks from the LGBTQ world. We thought this might be a good opportunity to start shining a light on some great talents."

The festival will kick off with a free show from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, January 6, by Yoko Noge's Jazz Me Blues. Noge is originally from Osaka, Japan, but has been a longtime star in Chicago's jazz and blues scene. Friday evening's ticketed show is called The Bass Space, featuring bands led by bass players. The show will open with the Mary Halm Project, focusing on pieces by women composers. The second half of the show will be Marlene Rosenberg's Strings and Drums Project, featuring Rosenberg's own compositions.

Saturday afternoon, January 7, programming will begin at 3 p.m. with a panel discussion hosted by Karuna Maddava, who recently earned her master's degree in jazz history at Rutgers University. That discussion specifically, and the festival in general, will serve student musicians looking for good examples of performers who have navigated successfully through the American jazz scene, an approach that has local music educators are about the festival.

"I've had the opportunity to hear many of these amazing artists as a Chicago-area native," said Wheeling High School band director Michael Malek. "I knew Lara Driscoll as a young jazz artist when we went to high school together decades ago. I hope people take advantage of this opportunity to hear the inspiring music from these highly talented women!"

A free show will take place Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. The first section will feature the Pamela York Trio, playing York's own tunes and arrangements. In the second half of the show, York's trio will be joined by longtime Chicago jazz and funk queen, Typhanie Monique. Saturday evening's ticketed show will begin with trumpeter Emily Kuhn's quintet, featuring pianist Meghan Stagl. The second half of the Saturday night show will be a rollicking set by Little Rootie Tootie, saxophonist Juli Wood's group specializing in the tunes of Thelonious Monk.

Sunday at Hey Nonny will begin with a special edition of Hey Nonny's Jazz Brunch, featuring local piano wizard Lara Driscoll. The first set from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. will feature Driscoll's own trio. For the second set, Driscoll will be joined by husband and collaborator Chris White, in what they call the Firm Roots Duo. That duo put out a debut CD in 2021 called "Firm Roots." For the final brunch set, the Firm Roots Duo will be joined by jazz singer Abigail Riccards. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from an a la carte menu crafted by Hey Nonny Chef Mauro Berruti. Reservations can be made at

The 2023 Festival will close with a ticketed show Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. that begins with Chicago vocal jazz star Alyssa Allgood with her trio. The second half of the show will feature the Joan Hickey Quartet, which includes New York City saxophonist Caroline Davis.

Brooks and Maddava see the festival as a way to give the performers important recognition while at the same time giving younger performers important role models.

"The Women's Jazz Festival will really provide an opportunity for current students to watch and learn from successful women in the field," said Maddava.

"We hope to make this an annual event," said Brooks. "There is surely enough talent to fill the bill and we hope to see the festival grow every year."

For a schedule of performances and to get tickets, visit Tickets may be purchased for individual ticketed shows, or discounted festival passes are also available.

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