Celebrated by critics and audiences alike as one of the nation's foremost jazz bands, the CJE's 21-member professional ensemble comprises an elite group of Chicago jazz musicians, ranging from established stars with national reputations and acclaimed Columbia College Chicago faculty, to the city's brightest young talents. Collectively, the members have performed and collaborated with nearly every major talent in the jazz world of the last 30 years.
The Chicago Jazz Ensemble's American Heritage Jazz Series, presented annually in various Chicago venues has established a reputation for excellence in the Chicagoland area. The series has featured a diverse range of guest artists over the last eight years including Lennie Niehaus, Lonnie Brooks, Bill Dobbins, Joe Lovano, Johnny Frigo, Franz Jackson, Corky Siegel, Orbert Davis, Slide Hampton, Johnny Griffin, Ira Sullivan, Von Freeman, Eric Alexander, Gerald Wilson, Claudia Acuna, Cedar Walton, Dr. Billy Taylor and Dave Valentin-providing local audiences with the opportunity to experience live performances by the leading jazz artists of our time.
Artistic Director Jon Faddis has a 30-year history of performing and collaborating with the world's foremost jazz artists and big bands. He performed with the Lionel Hampton Big Band and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and served as music director for Dizzy Gillespie's Grammy™-award winning United Nation Orchestra, for Dizzy Gillespie's 70th Birthday Big Band, and, after his mentor's passing, Faddis led the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars Big Band. Renowned for his leadership of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Faddis conducted more than 40 concerts in 10 years at Carnegie Hall, featuring over 135 musicians and 70 guest artists. Faddis also leads his own stellar quartet, which will release a CD, Teranga, on Koch Records this spring. In addition to his performance work, Jon Faddis is an award-winning educator with an enduring commitment to the accessible and quality education of young musicians.