Jazz St. Louis is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization whose mission is to lead our community in advancing the uniquely American art of jazz through live performance, education, and outreach.
The framework for Jazz St. Louis was established in the 1990s when the late Barbara Rose (pictured) began a program at the Hotel Majestic in downtown St. Louis. The program, called “Just Jazz,” presented jazz musicians of national and international fame in a small, intimate atmosphere. In 1995, Ms. Rose moved “Just Jazz” to the Grand Center Arts District. The new music series was called Jazz at the Bistro, and incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) in 1998.
Under Barbara Rose’s direction, Jazz at the Bistro gained an excellent reputation throughout the United States. Her personal contacts and friendships with the musicians who came to play the club led her to be nicknamed “Jazz Mom.” She nurtured the careers of many of today’s leading jazz artists including Benny Green, Diana Krall and John Pizzarelli. Barbara Rose led Jazz at the Bistro until she lost a long battle with breast cancer on October 24, 1998.
In 1999, Gene Dobbs Bradford was hired as the organization’s executive director and he quickly moved to expand the artistic diversity and educational programs offered by Jazz at the Bistro. A grant from the Whitaker Foundation in 2000 enabled Jazz at the Bistro to begin the Whitaker Jazz Education Collaborative, now known as the Whitaker Education Initiative, its first foray into fulfilling an important part of its mission: jazz education and outreach. From that initial program, the organization expanded, grew and enhanced its education and outreach to encompass more offerings for the St. Louis community.
In January of 2006, the organization changed its name to Jazz St. Louis to better reflect the work it does through its education and outreach programs, with the name Jazz at the Bistro now being used to refer to its nationally acclaimed performance series held at the Bistro at Grand Center. In February of 2007, Jazz at the Bistro was named by famed jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and USA Today as one of the top 10 places to hear live jazz in the United States. CNN.com touted Jazz at the Bistro as “one of nine great jazz joints” in November 2008.
Currently, Jazz St. Louis presents more than 300 concerts and events per year, which include performances at the Bistro, in-school performances, and community outreach concerts. Jazz St. Louis’s education programs now include in-school performances through the Emerson Jazz In the Schools Program, student ensembles like JazzU and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, Youth Concerts, an Artist Residency program, an Adopt-a-School program, and multiple opportunities for adults and families. Since 2000, Jazz St. Louis’ education programs have reached more than 140,000 students.
For more information on Jazz St. Louis and its programs, call 314.571.6000.