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Navy Pier’s Lake Stage: An inviting new home for music

Until Saturday night, I thought the greatest place in Chicago to behold jazz outdoors was the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

And, indeed, for its size and scope, the spot has few, if any, rivals in the United States.

But there’s something distinctly seductive about listening to jazz played on a smallish stage, in an intimate setting, the waters of Lake Michigan serving as glistening backdrop (with boats gliding by every now and then).

That was the scene Saturday evening for the inaugural concert of the Lake Stage, at Navy Pier’s new Polk Bros Performance Lawns. Though the venue obviously will be used for a range of musical idioms, it’s particularly well-suited for jazz, an art form that fares best when performers and listeners are up close and communicating with one another.

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