When a group of jazz club owners, musicians, writers, and fans founded the Jazz Institute of Chicago in 1969, the goal was to find new audiences for all forms of jazz. To achieve that, the nonprofit institute's programming has taken on many forms itself, in its performances and educational resources alike.
Since 1979, for instance, the institute has planned the Chicago Jazz Festival, a Labor Day weekend gathering of Chicago jazz musicians as well as national and international acts. The JazzCity concert series, established in 1997, collaborates with the Chicago Park District to bring new jazz to neighborhoods through the city. Meanwhile, at the NextGenJazz program, young musicians are given residencies at the Drake Hotel, where they can refine their skills and dedicate tunes to their all-time favorite bellhops.
Besides showcasing jazz through live concerts, the institute helps nurture the next wave of jazz talent with its Jazz Links program. Since 2003, Jazz Links has hosted monthly student jam sessions and even enlisted students to perform at venues like Millenium Park. Jazz Links has likewise assisted more seasoned musicians and instructors with opportunities such as public high school residences and a summer camp for jazz band teachers.