United States Jazz Trips

Jazz Performance Trips

United States Jazz Trips

Want to plan a jazz-centered trip for your students, but don’t know where to start?  Here’s a list of some of the top United States jazz trips to venues and stages that could feature your next big performance! But, maybe you just want your kids to simply sit back and take in the sounds of great jazz musicians.  Either way, in no particular order, here are Music Travel’s top 5 United States jazz trips.

Chicago, IL

Let the windy city pull you into a whirlwind of some of the best jazz experiences and performance opportunities around.
Sights and Sounds
  • Andy’s Jazz Club – Visit one of Chicago’s best-known and most-respected jazz establishments, Andy’s offers casually sophisticated dining with a musical menu of Chicago’s top jazz artists. Local performers cover a range of styles from Traditional and Swing to Bop, Fusion, Latin and Afro-Pop in the live shows. Enjoy good food and reserved seating for 90 exciting minutes of dining and entertainment!
  • Jazz Showcase – Explore and listen to jazz greats at the oldest historic jazz club in Chicago, founded in 1947.
  • Chicago Jazz Festival – Listen and soak in the music from jazz greats at this free annual ten-day jazz festival in late-August, which takes place in Millennium Park, at the Chicago Cultural Center, and at other venues throughout the city.
  • Hyde Park Jazz Festival – Check out this free two-day festival every September on the south-side of Chicago, established as one of the premier annual musical festivals in Chicago – named Best Neighborhood Music Festival by Chicago Magazine. The Jazz Fest presents Chicago’s greatest jazz musicians to nearly 20,000 people.
Performance Opportunities
  • Chicago’s Field Museum – Perform in magnificent Stanley Field Hall at Chicago’s Field Museum. This is not your typical performance venue – it features two African elephants and the largest T.Rex skeleton ever found, and the performance space is the size of a football field with a 70′ marble ceiling!
  • Alder Planetarium – Jam among the stars (and planets) at the Adler Planetarium in the Solar System Gallery. After you perform, take time to explore the museum and watch a show.
  • Festivals of Music – Play and be evaluated at one of the many premium, adjudicated two-day music festivals in Chicago at Harper College, First United Methodist Church, or at Robert Morris University.
  • Music in The Parks – Six Flags Great America – Join other middle school and high school ensembles from all over the U.S. at a Music In The Parks Festival at a local High School. Each group is adjudicated and ranked by qualified judges.  Then enjoy Six Flags Great America  park and attend a special awards ceremony.
  • VanderCook College of Music – experience a 90-minute rehearsal workshop at VanderCook College School of Music.
  • Midwest Clinic – Apply to perform at The Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference at McCormick Place in Chicago.  Every December over 18,000 attendees from all 50 states and 30 countries gather to listen to top auditioned scholastic and professional groups, attend workshops and visit the great trade show.

New York City, NY

Under the bright lights and hustle and bustle of the busy city, smooth jazz music can be heard in the air, flowing from Jazz at Lincoln Center and Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Jazz Club to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. New York offers many opportunities to explore, take-in, and perform jazz music!
Sights and Sounds
  • Lincoln Center Jazz Tour – Check out the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located at Columbus Circle. The House of Swing features gorgeous views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline, and three performance venues designed for jazz also offer the flexibility to showcase an incredible assortment of performance genres. Your tour guide will give information about Lincoln Center’s programs, answer questions and let you peak into New York’s jazz scene!
  • Lincoln Center Visiting Band Workshops -Participate in customized workshops with your jazz ensemble at Jazz at Lincoln Center, working directly with JALC clinicians and artists.
  • National Jazz Museum in Harlem – Get immersed in jazz history and listen to archived live jazz music from the greats, pulled from New York City radio broadcasts from 1935 -1941.
  • Charlie Parker Jazz Festival – Each year the finest musicians from around the world come together to share musical talents and reflect upon the musical genius of Charlie Parker. Join us in this vibrant celebration of jazz artists, bent on promoting the genre for generations to come.
  • Vision Festival – Founded in 1996, this is New York City’s longest continuously running jazz festival. Now in its 24th year, this festival of music, dance, poetry, and visual art is heralded as “one of New York’s most essential art events” (New York Times). (Quoted from https://www.artsforart.org/vision.html)
Performance Opportunities
  • Lincoln Center – Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival – High School jazz ensembles can submit an audition for the chance to take part in three extraordinary days of “workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals and performances at the House of Swing, Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center…Fifteen finalists are selected and each finalist band receives an in-school workshop led by a professional musician before coming to New York to perform before Wynton Marsalis and a panel of esteemed judges…The festival concludes with a concert and awards ceremony featuring the three top-placing bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.” (Quoted from https://academy.jazz.org/ee/participate/competition-festival/)
  • Lincoln Center Visiting Band Workshops – Participate in customized workshops with your jazz ensemble at Jazz at Lincoln Center and work directly with JALC clinicians and artists.
  • New York City Jazz Festival – Hosted at the world-famous Symphony Space, designed to give instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles the opportunity to perform as part of a ticketed daytime performance, receive comments from a panel of vocal and instrumental jazz experts, have a private clinic with one of them, and attend an evening performance of select professional and amateur musicians. (Quoted from https://www.mcp.us/nyc-jazz-festival)
  • Wintergarden Entertainment at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian – Give back and share your musical gifts:  Performing groups provide enjoyment for patients and their families and put a smile on the faces of the children. Your live performance before an audience of patients is also broadcast on closed-circuit TV to all patient rooms.

Orlando, FL

Perform jazz charts among the warm breezes and palm trees, while enjoying the thrills of Disney and Universal Parks and the many educational clinics and performances the parks have to offer.
Sights and Sounds
Performance Experiences
  • Disney Performing Arts Performances – Perform jazz music on a grand stage within one of the four magical Disney Parks – Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, or the Magic Kingdom.
    • Disney Performing Arts Workshops – Jazz It Up – Students enter the world of a professional jazz musician through this intensive, 2 1/2-hour workshop, where they rehearse and record jazzy renditions of several Disney songs under the direction of a Disney teaching artist. Performers master specific techniques to maximize rehearsal time and execute a stellar performance (Quoted from https://www.disneyyouth.com/programs/performing-arts/workshops/jazz-it-up-disney-world/)
    • Festival Disney – Every year in March or April, Disney hosts a series of performances and opportunities for adjudication (competitive and non-competitive options) at various locations throughout Disney’s four Orlando parks. Take your jazz ensemble for a spin with outstanding jazz ensembles from around the U.S.!
  • Universal Studios Festivals
    • Universal Studios – STARS Stage Performance Programs – Lead your jazz ensemble in a magnificent 30 minute performance at Universal CityWalk™’s covered Lagoon Stage, watched by park visitors.
    • Music in the Parks – Let this adjudicated festival provide a year-end assessment for your band, choir, and orchestra by an outside panel of judges, reinforcing the lessons you have worked on all year. Perform at a local school or church, then head to Universal Orlando Resort™ for a day of fun. Attend the on-property awards ceremony at which every ensemble is acknowledged and where musicianship takes center stage (Quoted from https://www.universalorlandoyouth.com/Performance/Music-Festivals/Default.html.)
    • Music USA Festivals – At this event, groups receive a professional recording of their performance and meaningful on-stage clinics by distinguished adjudicators on Universal Orlando Resorts’ Soundstage 33. (Quoted from https://www.universalorlandoyouth.com/Performance/Music-Festivals/Default.html.)
    • OrlandoFest This program includes a series of music festivals that run from March through early June at performing arts centers in close proximity to Universal Orlando Resort™. The festival concludes with a fun and exciting awards ceremony at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™. If participating in one of Universal’s Custom Workshops, your ensemble will experience a fast-paced, focused clinic at which they learn to play or sing together at a new level. (Quoted from https://www.universalorlandoyouth.com/Performance/Music-Festivals/Default.html.)

New Orleans, LA

Fully immerse yourself in the history and DNA of New Orleans. With its deep roots in American jazz, this birthplace of the genre has a thriving music scene. Walk down the streets and hear music ripple through the winding roads. Have it wake your soul while you experience a distinct cultural and musical experience. From Charles “Buddy” Bolden to Louis Armstrong, you will perform in the footsteps of legends in ‘The Crescent City’.
Sights and Sounds
  • New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – With eight days and twelve stages of soul-stirring music—jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, folk, and much more—the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is firmly established as a singular celebration of both historic and contemporary significance. (Quoted from http://www.nojazzfest.com/)
  • Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival – Check-out this festival presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation every October in Lafayette Square Park. This free event boasts two performance stages, a dozen of the best barbecue vendors in the region and a huge arts market.
  • Satchmo SummerFest – In late July and early August there’s an annual festival honoring the great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, the legendary jazz musician born and raised in New Orleans, whose raspy voice and instrumental skills are known far and wide. Satchmo is a beloved figure in New Orleans, and his influence on the genre of jazz, music in general, and the city of New Orleans is prevalent all across the Crescent City. The nominal daily admission of $5 (children 12 and under are free) helps support local musicians and pay for the event.
  • French Quarter Festival – April – The award-winning French Quarter Festival is a four-day local music showcase scattered throughout the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana— the largest free music event in the United States. The festival features 1,700 musicians playing 400 hours of free, local music from a variety of musical genres on 23 stages throughout the French Quarter. The community festival also features the ‘Culinary Lineup,’ festival food booths operated by some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants, open throughout the festival weekend.
  • Preservation Hall Foundation’s Kids in the Hall Field Trip Program – Check out this one-hour field trip, centered around the History of New Orleans style music. Students engage and listen to a Preservation Hall Band, and they have an opportunity for a Q&A session with members of the Preservation Hall Collective. (Quoted from https://www.preshallfoundation.org/kidsinthehall)
  • Creole Queen – Mississippi River Jazz Cruise – Experience the sounds of Paddlewheeler Creole Queen’s trio of New Orleans’ BEST Jazz Bands while you enjoy great Creole food and dancing. Soak in the sweet Mississippi River breezes on the promenade deck as the city skyline slips by under a canopy of stars. This Jazz cruise is pure New Orleans!
  • Riverboat Louis Armstrong – Hop aboard this great new riverboat, four-decks high and holding up to 3,000 guests. The boat features the music of remarkable jazz greats playing various genres of jazz!
Performance Opportunities
  • Crescent City Jazz Festival – Jazz Ed Network founding member Mary Jo Papich serves as artistic director for this dynamic festival for vocal and instrumental high school, college, and university jazz ensembles. Participating ensembles perform with New Orleans jazz musicians as soloists, and all participants benefit from clinics presented by top jazz professionals. Festival clinics and performances take place on Friday, and public performances in the French Quarter are arranged on Saturday. Each group receives a plaque and medals are awarded to outstanding soloists.
  • New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park – Perform at this National Park’s various performance venues to showcase your group’s jazz skills. Don’t forget to bring your students to the Park’s visitors center for a free jazz history self-guided audio tour about the top eleven jazz history sites in New Orleans!
  • The University of New Orleans – Enjoy a jazz clinic with Professor Brian Seeger. Sharpen your skills and widen your jazz knowledge.
  • Tulane University – Reserve a jazz clinic with Professor Courtney Bryan, Assistant Professor of Music, Jazz Studies, and Jesse B. McBride, Professor of Practice, Jazz Studies, to sharpen your skills and widen your jazz knowledge.
  • The French Market District – Perform in the heart of New Orleans at the iconic French Market District’s Washington Artillery Park Amphitheater. Set against iconic Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, it is the perfect location for visiting musical and performance groups to share their talent with New Orleans locals and tourists alike. (Quoted from https://www.frenchmarket.org/french-market-group-performance-application/)

Seattle, WA

Join the legacy of Seattle’s vibrant jazz scene! Long before grunge music took hold of the city, jazz had a strong presence, starting in the 1920s. Not a hidden gem anymore, jazz is booming in this city, rich with music history. Stars like Ray Charles, Ernestine Anderson, Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix got their start in the music industry thanks to jazz.
Sights and Sounds
  • Ear Shot Jazz Festival – The most prominent annual event is the Earshot Jazz Festival in October and November, which started in 1986 and has grown to include over fifteen venues in the Seattle area. It’s all about honoring jazz heritage and supporting the creativity of local jazz artists. The Earshot Jazz Festival has been described by JazzTimes as “Seattle’s most important jazz event.” https://www.earshot.org/earshot-jazz-festival/
  • Ballard Jazz Festival – Thanks to business and civic partners, the Ballard (neighborhood) Jazz Festival expanded from a single night’s, six club jazz walk in 2003 to four days of music involving 100+ performers and 15 performance venues. Enjoy the music, concerts, educational events, and more!  www.visitballard.com/events/ballard-jazz-festival-2019
Performance Opportunities
  • The University of Washington – The School of Music annually hosts numerous master classes and clinics led by accomplished artists, plus lectures, demonstrations, and supplementary learning opportunities led by scholars and educators from the world’s top educational foundations.

Are your jazz students ready for a once-in-a-lifetime United States jazz trip?

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