Jazz, like blues, experienced
a musical renaissance in Chicago during the twentieth century. A boom in area
industrial jobs attracted young workers from throughout the United States,
creating a mass of twenty-somethings with disposable income and, consequently,
an intense demand for concert halls, movie theaters and nightclubs.
Entertainment districts began to pop up all over Chicago, particularly on the
city's south side.
With venues like the Green
Mill and Andy's Jazz Club, swing notes are still an integral part of the city's
soundtrack. The Chicago Jazz Festival attracts more than 100,000 people to
Grant Park each summer. And Chicago vaunts some of the music style's greatest
CHICAGO'S PREMIER JAZZ CLUBS
Green Mill Lounge (4802 N. Broadway St.) echoes its Al Capone era beginnings with white tablecloths, candlelight and a striking wooden interior. While the Green Mill is anchored in bootlegger hijinks, the venue became one of the country's leading jazz venues after Prohibition. Situated in Chicago's diverse Uptown neighborhood, visitors will find a diverse crowd and, of course, live jazz music that goes late into the night.
Showcase (806 S.
Plymouth Ct.) has been satisfying the polyrhythm cravings of funk fiends for
more than six decades. This South Loop spot has a legacy that includes the
likes of Lester Young, Thelonius Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. What Jazz Showcase
lacks in interior style, it makes up for with spot-on acoustics and prominent
artists on stage.
Located in the heart of
downtown Chicago, Andy's Jazz Club
(11 E. Hubbard St.) is just a walk away from The Magnificent Mile. But don't be
fooled by the lavish address, this place has the nitty-gritty feel you'd expect
from one of the city's traditional jazz clubs. Andy's has been a saxophone solo
haven for more than five decades.
THE HOME OF JAZZ LEGENDS
Several prevailing record labels laid stake in Chicago during the roaring twenties, drawing the genre's best musicians to the city. Legends like Louis Armstrong, who regular performed at Chicago's Royal Gardens Café, cemented the city's place in jazz lore. Armstrong's historic cuts for Okeh Records, a local label that's approaching 100 years in existence, are just a small part of Chicago's deep roots in jazz history.
Joseph "King" Oliver
Joseph "King" Oliver was Louis Armstrong's mentor. That's
all you need to know, really. The Louisiana native came to Chicago and, along
with Armstrong, Baby Dodds and Lil Harden, formed one of the 1920's most
powerful jazz collectives, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Oliver became a
mainstay on the south side of Chicago before gum disease and a few failed
business ventures ended his music career. Oliver's legacy lives on with songs
like "Canal Street Blues," "Sweet Like This," and "Shake It and Break It,"
which echo through New Orleans parade routes to this day.
Whether you call him Dipper, Satchmo or Pops, Louis
Armstrong is unquestionably the most recognizable name in jazz. The "What a
Wonderful World" singer came to the city in the 1920's, at a time in which the
jazz world orbited around Chicago. With his famous trumpet solos, Armstrong
fast became one of the city's most popular musicians. Armstrong eventually left
his mentor and Chicago-based bandleader, Joseph Oliver, to play clubs in New
York where he developed into one of the most prominent musicians in American
Earl Hines moved to Chicago in 1925, and it's a good
thing he did. The gifted musician met Louis Armstrong in a poolroom on the city's
south side and the two began playing together at the Chicago Musician's Union. In
the coming years, Armstrong would become so attached to Hines' piano playing
and music direction that he replaced his own wife - who was playing the keys in
Armstrong's band at the time - with Hines. In 1928 Hines opened the Grand
Terrace Café, a venue controlled by Al Capone, where he led a big band in up to
three performances per night.