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JazzCity travels on a “Journey through Jazz” to celebrate the Jazz Institute’s 50th Anniversary

On March 16, 1969 the newly formed Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC) presented its first concert at the Field Museum’s Simpson Auditorium. Remarkably, not only was the 1,150 capacity theater sold out, but newspaper accounts report that at least 2000 people were turned away from what was billed as a “Journey through Jazz.” The concert featured JIC co-founders Franz Jackson, Art Hodes and Richard Abrams along with Lil Hardin Armstrong, Bunky Green, Art Hoyle and bluesman J.B. Hutto. The program traced the origins of the music from field hollers to the fresh new experiments of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). As writer Larry Kart described it, “here were musicians of many eras finding a common ground. And that is what The Jazz Institute is all about.” Fifty years later, that is still what the Jazz Institute of Chicago is all about.”

Franz Jackson

The 22nd season of the JazzCity free concert series, a collaboration with the Chicago Park District that brings music directly to Chicago’s neighborhoods and celebrates jazz’s deep connection to our city’s culture will continue to reflect the big picture, as Jazz in Chicago turns 100 years old (Joe King Oliver arrived from New Orleans in 1919) and the Jazz Institute turns 50. Opening with the annual NextGenJazz showcase and closing with a salute to the music’s early innovators, each concert will be dedicated to co-founders of the organization who came together to make sure there would always be a place for jazz to be heard in this town.

Art Hoyle

The first concert, scheduled for February 8, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the Theater on the Lake located at 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, is the third annual summit of rising stars in the Chicago scene. Under the direction of saxophonist and educator, and JIC board member Jarrard Harris, the season opener will feature a handpicked septet who will focus on presenting their own original music. Saxophonists Brent Griffin and Kenneth Leftridge, trumpeter Constantine Alexander (heard last year with Chucho Valdes at JazzCity’s Latin Jazz Festival), bassist Kurt Shelby (an alumni of the JIC’s Jazz Links education program), drummer Samuel Jewell and pianist Julius Tucker (featured at the 2018 Chicago Jazz Festival’s Rooftop  Jazz stage) will let us know what the present generation has up their sleeves.

JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the  Jazz Institute in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, now in its 21st season of bringing people together from across the city to listen to Chicago’s top jazz musicians. JazzCity is sponsored by WDCB 90.9 FM and  WHPK 88.5 FM Radio and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information visit or call 312-427-1676.


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