Big Band Music, Chicago
Chicago cannot claim to be the birthplace of jazz, and the Jazz of the NBA oddly plays in Utah. But this city remains one of the true jazz capitals of the world. Of course, the rise of jazz is inextricably linked with the blues. Chicago is also the home of Down Beat Magazine, the jazz authority since 1934. The city hosts the mammoth annual Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park on Labor Day weekend. The AACM collective pushed the artform into new directions in the 1960s and '70s. But its the small jazz clubs in Chicago that are the lifeblood of this truly American genre. Here, you can sit and enjoy traditional swing and bop. You can sip gin at the Green Mill, just as Al Capone did. You can also witness the cutting edge, listening to wild saxophone skronk at Elastic or grooving to the modern bop of the Umbrella Music Collective in a bar. You can even see a lot of the Umbrella guys working behind the scenes at the Pitchfork Music Festival. And they say jazz is dead. As you can see from our list of top jazz clubs in Chicago, jazz is very much alive.