CJO, We Swing


The Chicago Jazz Orchestra has been swinging the jazz world in and for Chicago since 1978. Look at our gigs, listen to our musicians, and join us. Be part of the story of jazz – joy for your ears and your soul. Celebrate the music of life in America: sing and swing with us.


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Our Story

Welcome to the Chicago Jazz Orchestra

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is Chicago’s oldest continuously operating professional jazz orchestra. Founded in 1978 by Jeff Lindberg and the late Steve Jensen, the Jazz Members Big Band became the Chicago Jazz Orchestra Association in 1999.

How the CJO Started and Who We are Today.
A short interview with Jeff Lindberg, Artistic Director and Co-Founder

Jazz Members Big Band at George’s on Kinzie St., circa 1980

Chicago Jazz Orchestra 40th Annivers. Gala, The Empire Room, March 2019

Only the Best

The CJO Is Chicago Jazz

In August 1979, the ensemble was the opening band on the first night of the First Annual Chicago Jazz Festival. 41 years later, the CJO stands as not only the oldest professional big band in Chicago, but also the second oldest professional civic jazz orchestra in the United States (second only to the Columbus Jazz Orchestra). Watch and listen as the CJO performs at the Chicago Jazz Festival on September 4, 2015:


We Pay Tribute to Jazz Greats

Featuring local and national headliners

The CJO presents and develops diverse tributes to jazz greats and other outstanding artists. From The Piano Soul of Nat King Cole at Symphony Center Chicago to our Frank Zappa tribute, we work with top talent. Our new production, A Tribute to Roy Eldridge, features trumpeter Jon Faddis and singer Alyssa Allgood. We are poised to create a special night of jazz and community!

A Jazz Community

Gifts and Events 

Support and funding from leading organizations and our fans have contributed to the success of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra for over 40 years. The CJO is inclusive––like the art of jazz. Please consider supporting the Chicago Jazz Orchestra Association in a way that fits you best. Check out our support page with some basic options. 

We Produce Great Concerts

Chicago’s Historic Venues

Sinatra, Gillespie, Mingus, Terry…the list goes on and on. All of these greats and more have been the focus of programing that features award-winning performances and tributes designed by the genius of musical director Jeff Lindberg. 

We Play Clubs

Chicago Has Legendary Clubs

In 1979, the ensemble became the first Chicago-based jazz orchestra to perform in solo performance at Joe Segal’s famed Jazz Showcase. Even though the CJO regularly plays for audiences of thousands at such venues as Symphony Center Chicago and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the orchestra keeps its spontaneity by performing regularly in jazz clubs as well. We have had residencies at The Green Mill (“Mondays at The Mill”), Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Winter’s Jazz Club, and many more.

We Teach

Jazz has a Voice and History

“Side by Side with the CJO” is a program that not only supports having CJO members share their expertise with public and private school music students in small group instruction and master classes, it also gives students the opportunity to perform live with the full Chicago Jazz Orchestra.

Gigs and Talent for All Places and All Ages

We play gigs, all over town and away.

We assemble the perfect talent for a gig. Jeff charts it and we let it fly. If you like great music, this is for you.

From Thaddeus Tukes to Paul Marinaro, Clark Terry to Billy Strayhorn, the CJO has a community and history that defies age and time, just like the music itself. The CJO has shared the stage and spotlight with an amazing array of talent.


What People are Saying

“The best big band in the country”

—Clark Terry

“Porgy and Bess”

Clark Terry and Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra: George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Americana Music, 2004) –  Nominated for “Jazz Album of The Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association, and a rare “Five Star” rating by DownBeat, which also named it one of the top recordings of the decade. 


“…took on an Everest of large-ensemble jazz”

By the time the CJO reached the climactic pages of “Black Saint,” the music came closer than ever to achieving the depth of sound and rhythmic fury that Mingus envisioned.

—Howard Reich  Chicago Tribune

Sinatra at the Sands”

“It takes a measure of gumption for a contemporary singer to perform the repertoire of one of Frank Sinatra’s greatest albums, Sinatra at the Sands. But that’s what Chicago vocalist Marinaro did, in the company of Jeff Lindberg’s mighty CJO. This wasn’t a mere imitation, however, Marinaro singing the music his way, that luxuriant baritone and singular interpretations making these songs utterly his own…The CJO never sounded better.”

Howard Reich  Chicago Tribune