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Tuesdays on the Terrace | Thaddeus Tukes: Tribute to Milt Jackson

July 11, 20235:30 pm - 8:00 pm

This event is free, but capacity is limited. Reserve a Fast Pass for expedited entry.

Thaddeus Tukes. Image courtesy of the artist.

About the Event

Summer Tuesdays come alive on the MCA terrace with free concerts highlighting artists from Chicago’s internationally renowned music community. Enjoy live music while relaxing on the lawn with your own picnic, or savor snacks and drinks available for purchase. Then head inside to catch the MCA’s summer exhibitions—we’re open late on Tuesdays and free for Illinois residents.

Beloved Chicago vibraphonist Thaddeus Tukes brings to the terrace two sets of music dedicated to the legendary Milt Jackson, who’s centennial anniversary is marked in 2023. The evening’s program includes arrangements of classic songs from the Modern Jazz Quartet, the band cofounded by Jackson in 1952, as well as new compositions by Tukes for a vibes-led quartet.

Band Members | Instruments

  • Tai Fraction | Violin
  • Ellen Frolichstein | Cello
  • Roger Harris | Piano
  • Charles Heath | Drums
  • Michelle Manson | Viola
  • Joshua Ramos | Bass
  • Thaddeus Tukes | Vibes
  • Zara Zarehvia | Violin

About the Artist

Presented as the “World’s best vibraphonist” by World Expo 2020 in Dubai, composer and percussionist Thaddeus Tukes honors the legacy of the vibraphone within the jazz tradition and beyond. His virtuosity and creativity “brings poetry to the vibraphone” (Chicago Tribune, 2019), which has captivated audiences from Carnegie Hall in New York to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Tukes says he is a proud practitioner of the “Chicago Vibe,” and hails from his hometown as the foundation of the modern jazz aesthetic.

Tukes began playing the piano at the age of five, and soon began inclusive percussion instruction with Patricia Dash and Douglas Waddell as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s Percussion Scholarship Program, upon recommendation from Edgar Allan Poe Classical School music teacher Barry Elmore. Although classically trained, Tukes was inspired to play the jazz vibraphone after hearing vibraphonists Lionel Hampton and Stefon Harris. He later played percussion instruments and piano in the Jazz Combo, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and Percussion ensembles at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago. In addition to a feature performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the school’s band, he received superior ratings in city- and state-wide solo competitions in classical music, and recognition as the best Illinois Jazz vibraphonist among high school competitors by the Illinois Music Education Association.

Tukes graduated with a combined bachelor’s degree in jazz piano and vibraphone studies from Northwestern University, the first jazz vibraphone degree program at a non-conservatory university, under the direction of saxophonist Victor Goines of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and vibraphonist Jim Cooper. Tukes has earned the honor of being a Ravinia Jazz Scholar, Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Kewitt-Wang Scholar, Luminarts Fellow, Vivian K Harsh Society awardee, and Percussive Arts Society/Yamaha Terry Gibbs Vibraphone Scholarship recipient. Tukes is currently the director of Chicago’s Gallery 37/After School Matters Center for the Arts Jazz Band program, after being an apprentice there during high school, under the direction of pianist Roger Harris and multi-reedist Chip Gdalman.

Summer 2020 found Tukes forming a group of local musicians called the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, a music performance and social justice advocacy organization. Through the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, he has supported and led protests, provided political and financial literacy for the local music community, conducted jam sessions throughout the city, and created a citywide network of young multicultural instrumentalists. Tukes, along with a small delegation of these musicians, were invited to perform at the 2020 World’s Expo in Dubai.

Tukes has released three albums under his self-owned label, Vibetown Studios. He performs as a bandleader and a special guest at jazz festivals and various jazz clubs and ensembles throughout the country, and he is a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. When not performing, Tukes can be found teaching percussion ensembles at various elementary and high schools in the Chicagoland area.


Tuesdays on the Terrace is presented by Univision Chicago and made possible in part by a generous gift from Luminarts Cultural Foundation.

This event is supported by a Chicago Presents grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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