The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is Chicago’s oldest continuously operating profession jazz orchestra. Founded in 1979 by Jeff Lindberg and the late Steve Jensen, the Jazz Members Big Band became the Chicago Jazz Orchestra Association in 1999.
Highlights of the CJO’s history include:
- Selected to open the first night of the First Annual Chicago Jazz Festival in 1979.
- Has held post as resident orchestra for The Kennedy Center Honors Gala for 27 years.
- Recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Grant 2005–2006, 2006–2007, 2008–2009, 2012–2013, 2013–2014, 2014–2015.
- Orchestra for the Washington National Symphony Gala (2004 – the NSO’s 25th Anniversary Gala).
- Kennedy Center New Year’s Eve 2005 featuring Kurt Elling. Performed with Elling also in 2006 at the Spoleto Festival USA. Elling also appears on Charley Harrison/CJO album, Keeping My Composure.
- Received 5-star review from DownBeat Magazine for Clark Terry and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Americana Music, 2004). Clark Terry and CJO album Porgy and Bess was nominated for “Album of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2005 and named “CD of the Month” by New York’s Jazz @ Lincoln Center (Nov. 2004).
- Performances with national and local artists including: Joe Williams, Jimmy Heath, Harold Jones, Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove, Buddy DeFranco, Nicholas Payton, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Faddis, Benny Golson, Brother Jack McDuff, Phil Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Phil Woods, Ann Hampton Callaway, Eric Alexander, Eric Schneider, Larry Combs, Charles McPherson, Orbert Davis, Kurt Elling, Dee Alexander and others.
- Participates in free public concerts through the City of Chicago Cultural Affairs. Has performed in Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion (Millennium Park) in 2004 (featuring Kurt Elling), 2006 (Battle of the Bands with the Count Basie Orchestra) and 2008 (Freddy Cole & Audrey Morris in a Tribute to Nat King Cole).
- CJO in concert at Ravinia Festival—Ramsey Lewis Big Band Jamboree (June, 2006).
- CJO appeared in concert with Ahmad Jamal as part of Jazz @ Symphony Center, April 18, 2008.
- CJO appeared in concert with McCoy Tyner as part of Jazz @ Symphony Center, December 11, 2009.
- CJO appeared in Millennium Park for Ahmad Jamal’s 80th birthday celebration September of 2010.
- CJO opened the Chicago Jazz Festival with a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald featuring Dee Alexander, Frieda Lee, and Spider Saloff, August 2012.
- To celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2013, the CJO released Burstin’ Out, which features emerging vocalist Cyrille Aimée and the Orchestra on a diverse album of both classic and original jazz arrangements.