If you say the words “Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase,” in the city of Chicago you are apt to get responses that range from “That place has awesome jazz!” to “Why is that old guy at the front door so grumpy?” If you are in the know, then you know that grumpy guy at the front door is Joe Segal, the namesake of the club. You also know that he has been running this club since 1947 when he was a young jazz fan attending college in Chicago. Mr. Segal will be celebrating his 90th birthday this year and as such has earned his right to be the grumpy host of the showcase. Ultimate Excursions invites you to come with us as we learn more about the history and experiences here at this top Chicago music venue.
Nearly every major jazz artist of the last 50 years has performed at the Showcase. The homepage of their website lists past acts that range from Dexter Gordon, Bunky Green, and Count Bassie, to Art Blakey and Sun Ra. More than once during the history of the club, national artists booked to gig at nearby Symphony Center have shown up in the shadows of the stage to join with local artists in after-hour jam sessions.
The 170 seat venue provides a comfortable listening room for serious jazz fans. Joe is not a fan of a lot of conversation when the musicians are performing and happily relays this to the audience ahead of time. His adherence to silencing the room ensures an intimate space that allows for optimal listening pleasure. The staff and bartenders are warm and inviting and are attentive to their customer’s needs. Ticket prices vary by artist and can range from $20 to $50 depending on who is on stage.
Its current location in Dearborn Station, at 806 South Plymouth Court, also allows Joe and his son Wayne the opportunity to rent out the stage to local college jazz ensembles for performances on an as needed basis. Student jazz ensembles from nearby Columbia College, DePaul University, and Roosevelt University are afforded the opportunity to perform on a stage that previously would have been unavailable to them until they were gigging musicians. If you are in town on a night that a national act is not booked, you still have the opportunity to hear some top-notch musicians from one of these local groups.
National acts and local favorites line the calendar for the upcoming season. The lineup can be found online at jazzshowcase.com. Shows run Monday-Sunday at 8pm and 10pm. Sunday’s have an additional matinee at 4pm. Tickets are cash only at the door or can be purchased ahead of time online. Additional information 312-360-0234.