Chicago Jazz

Chicago JazzChicago became the focal point for jazz in the early 1920s when New Orleans musicians found their way north. At first Chicago did not know what to make of jazz- radios refused to play it, people walked out during performances. Despite this, jazz artists pressed on, and jazz managed to quickly gain cult status, and then more mainstream popularity. Chicago was the first place where “jazz” was used as the standard name for the new music genre. The soloist jazz player became more developed and more commonly seen, and jazz clubs opened all over the Windy City.

Historically, jazz musicians have been predominately black, but Chicago saw the development of white jazz artists, such as Bix Beiderbecke, who is remembered as the “first white jazz master”. Black musicians like Louis Armstrong also traveled from New Orleans to join the increasingly vibrant Chicago jazz scene, illustrating Ahmand Alaadeen’s insightful quote that “jazz does not belong to one race or culture.” Many jazz artists from the Chicago scene made their way to New York City, expanding the popularity of jazz to one of the US’ largest and most important cultural centers, which helped to establish jazz as the great American art form. The introduction of jazz to New York City also launched the spread of jazz internationally, which in turn influenced American jazz, introducing new genres like Brazilian/Latin jazz. Today many other major cities also have jazz scenes, including Washington D. C. where the U-Street jazz scene is both legendary and a historical part of the city’s background which still attracts both locals and tourists to the capital of the US.

Today, jazz fans can still partake in the Chicago jazz scene. The annual Chicago Jass Festival is a long-running and acclaimed tradition, and places like Jazz on Jackson, the Jazz & Heritage Stage, and Petrillo offer a variety of jazz and are well-worth the visit.