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History

 
 

From our first downbeat as a summer concert series at Lincoln Center in 1987, to the fully orchestrated achievement of opening the world’s first venue designed specifically for jazz in 2004, we have celebrated this music and these landmarks with an ever-growing audience of jazz fans from around the world.


Representing the totality of jazz music, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission is carried out through four elements—educational, curatorial, archival, and ceremonial—capturing, in unparalleled scope, the full spectrum of the jazz experience.

 

In the mid-1980s, Lincoln Center, Inc. was looking to expand its programming efforts to attract new and younger audiences, and to fill its halls during the summer months when resident companies were performing elsewhere. Long-time jazz enthusiasts on the Lincoln Center campus and on the Lincoln Center Board recognized the need for America’s music to be represented, and lobbied to include jazz in the organization’s offerings. After four summers of successful Classical Jazz concerts, Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) became an official department of Lincoln Center in 1991. During its first year, JALC produced concerts throughout New York City, including Brooklyn and Harlem. By the second year, JALC had its own radio series on National Public Radio, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (now known as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) began touring, and recording and selling CDs. By its fourth year, the program reached international audiences with performances in Hong Kong and, the following year, in France, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Spain, England, Germany and Finland. In July 1996, JALC was inducted as the first new constituent of Lincoln Center since The School of American Ballet joined in 1987, laying the groundwork for the building of a performance facility designed specifically for the sound, function and feeling of jazz.

 

“The whole space is dedicated to the feeling of swing, which is a feeling of extreme coordination,” explained Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis of his vision for the new home of jazz, or the “House of Swing.” “Everything is integrated: the relationship between one space and another, the relationship between the audience and the musicians, is one fluid motion, because that’s how our music is.” Under Marsalis’s direction, JALC sought out world-renowned architect Rafael Viñoly and a team of acoustic engineers to create Frederick P. Rose Hall, the world’s first performance, education and broadcast facility devoted to jazz, in New York City. As the centerpiece of a $131 million capital campaign drive, the 100,000-square-foot facility opened in fall 2004 and features three concert and performance spaces (Rose Theater, The Appel Room and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola) engineered for the warmth and clarity of the sound of jazz.