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Jazz Around Town

Jazz in Chicago was in danger in 1969. The city's clubs were struggling and rock n' roll was king. That's when the Jazz Institute of Chicago was born.

The founders wanted to preserve the historical roots of Chicago jazz, to ensure the music would not be lost at a time when rock had become the reigning cultural and financial force in American music. Almost forty years later, the Jazz Institute can claim many successes, from the internationally recognized Chicago Jazz Festival, which the Institute has programmed since the festival's inception in 1979, to the new summer jazz series in Millennium Park, to the Jazz Links program, which gives high school students the opportunity to perform with world-class professionals.

The Jazz Institute of Chicago encourages all forms of jazz while showcasing the talents of local performers. But executive director Lauren Deutsch says jazz does more than entertain. It can teach us a few lessons, too, because improvisation is a model for living and for democracy. "[Jazz] requires... listening and contributing... It looks beyond color, beyond ethnic origin, and in fact welcomes diversity," says Deutsch. "We're all improvising everyday... in every sort of problem solving situation, and the more we're able to... feel confident about how we respond to those situations, the better we feel about ourselves."

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Meet Chicago jazz artists Maggie Brown, Orbert Davis, Tatsu Aoki, David Boykin, Diane Delin, Malachi Thompson and the Freebop Band, Janice Borla, Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble, Ernest Dawkins' New Horizon Ensemble, and Spider Saloff.

Find our more about other Chicago jazz organizations, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Chicago's Jazzfest Heritage Music Weekend and the AACM.

Explore more Illinois jazz with Jean Kittrell, and the New Arts Jazztet with Phil Brown.

Meet dance troupes dedicated to jazz dance: Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project.

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Find out about The Jazz Institute of Chicago's strong commitment to nurturing young players through their "Jazz Links" program- and watch these young players blow!


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Veteran saxman Von Freeman and young lion Corey Wilkes jam together.

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Young sax players given a hearing by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

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Chicago Jazz Ensemble director Jon Faddis waits in the wings.

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A nighttime performance in Millennium Park.


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