Jazz Institute of Chicago has programmed the Chicago Jazz Festival in partnership with the City of Chicago since the festival began in 1979.
The organization’s mission to promote and nurture jazz in Chicago is carried out by providing jazz education for youth and adults, supporting the creation of new work by Chicago jazz musicians; growing the audience for jazz by presenting programs that are free and available for all and fostering a thriving jazz community.
Chicago Jazz Festival
The Chicago Jazz Festival is a popular and well-known four-day free celebration of jazz now based in Millennium Park located in the Loop area of downtown Chicago.
Known for its artistic creativity, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition.
It promotes awareness and appreciation for all forms of jazz through free, quality live musical performance.
Shortly after Duke Ellington’s death in 1974, a festival was organized to honor him in Grant Park. More than 10,000 jazz fans attended, and it became an annual event, attracting crowds of up to 30,000.
In 1978, another group organized a Grant Park festival to honor John Coltrane. When, in 1979, the Jazz Institute of Chicago began preparations for its own Grant Park Festival the Mayor’s Office of Special Events stepped in and joined the three different festivals together into the Chicago Jazz Festival, which would present a week of free jazz performances.
That first Chicago Jazz Festival included an Ellington Night, a Coltrane Night, and five other programs put together by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.
Petrillo Music Shell
Held at Grant Park’s new Petrillo Music Shell, first season performers included: Von Freeman, Art Hodes, Benny Carter, McCoy Tyner, Billy Taylor, Mel Torme, and Benny Goodman; and the festival drew 125,000 festival-goers over its seven nights.
Each year after the concerts are over, jam sessions, sometimes running late into the night and early morning, are hosted.
The jam sessions included prominent Chicago jazz musicians, including David Boykin, Fred Anderson, Dana Hall, Karl E. H. Seigfried, and Keefe Jackson.
The festival is now part of a summer-long series of concerts and festivals sponsored by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and including Taste of Chicago and the Chicago Blues Festival.
Parking Details: Park right below the music! Garage locations are Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive, Grant Park North Garage at 25 N. Michigan Ave. and Grant Park South Garage at 325 S. Michigan Ave.
Packages: $35 parking/Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage (regular rates apply at Grant Park North & Grant Park South Garages)