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“The Chicago River” recording is a five-movement suite which Davis considers quintessential ‘Third Stream,’ the blending of classical and jazz. Davis’ use of orchestral tapestries, coexisting within soulful improvisation, covers a multitude of moods, emotions and character. The reversal of the flow of the Chicago River is one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, and greatly improved the city of Chicago’s sanitation and public health while also having less positive consequences on the natural environment and cultural landscape for other parts of the region.

Davis was captured by the notion that the river’s geography didn’t change, but everything around it did. “When you look at the river, you see the water and the river itself, but even more so we see the reflections in the river that change over time. I make musical connections to the aspect of reflecting," says Davis.

'The Chicago River' Cinemagraph

The DVD cinemagraph features historic glass plate images from the photobook by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed Its River and the Land Beyond. Brought to life by Davis’ works, the moving images transport the viewer back in time during the turn of the 19th Century, when Chicago reversed the direction of its river.


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Orbert Davis' orchestral composition, performed by Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, inspired by photographs from The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed Its River and the Land Beyond, which documents the historic reversal of the Illinois River at the turn of the 20th Century.