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 all-time artists. 


Green Mill Cocktail Lounge Exterior

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.  

Jazz 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.


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.

Louis Armstrong

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 history,

Earl Hines

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.