Chicago Jazz Festival and Jazz Club Tour

Chicago Jazz Festival and Jazz Club Tour
Saxophonist Ernest Dawkins at Norman's Bistro. Photo James Foster

Every Labor Day weekend for nearly four decades, jazz lovers and jazz newbies have flocked to Chicago to soak up the Windy City’s thriving jazz scene at the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Chicago’s reputation and legacy as one of the world’s top jazz destinations dates back over 100 years to Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver. It continues today celebrating both national mainstream jazz and the city’s unique contributions to the art form.

Once again Chicago natives and visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy five days of non-stop jazz programming kicking off Wednesday, September 2 at the Chicago Jazz Club Tour and continuing throughout the weekend (Thursday, September 3 through Sunday, September 6) at the FREE Chicago Jazz Festival.

While tens of thousands of people head to Grant Park for Jazz Fest, a much smaller population takes advantage of the Chicago Jazz Club Tour, now celebrating its 30th year.

A guest at the 2014 Jazz Club tour looks forward to the evening

2014 Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazz Club Tour patron gets ready for a fun night on the town. Photo James Foster

The Jazz Club Tour offers an intimate look at Chicago’s top jazz venues offering a mix of jazz styles on both the city’s north and south sides.


Musicians perform at The Drake Hotel Chicago. Photo James Foster

On September 2, between 6 p.m. and midnight, jazz lovers can hop aboard the trolleys for the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Annual Jazz Club Tour that visits ten clubs all over the city for one low price.

To participate in the tour, guests must purchase a collectible button featuring Billy Strayhorn, in honor of his centennial celebration.

The button will identify Jazz Club Tour patrons who can then start the tour at any of the participating clubs.

The trolleys circulate all night long, so patrons can hop on and off whenever they wish and enjoy the music at each club for as long as they want.

Participating clubs include Norman’s Bistro (1001 E. 43rd) in Hyde Park, The Drake Hotel’s Palm Court and Coq D’Or (140 E. Walton) in the North Loop; and in the South Loop at The Jazz Showcase (806 S. Plymouth Ct).

Other venues include the historic Green Mill on the city’s north side at 4802 N. Broadway; newcomer The Promontory in Hyde Park at 5311 S. Lake Park Ave.; Reggie’s (2109 S. State); M Lounge (1520 S. Wabash); City Life (712 E. 83rd); and 50 Yard Line (69 E. 75th St).

Advance buttons are $35 or buttons can be purchased for $40 on the day of the tour, with special discounts for card carrying members of the Jazz Institute of Chicago.  Buttons are available at participating clubs and on the Jazz Institute of Chicago website. 

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