At the heart of jazz, a truly American art form, is the idea of musical improvisation, the creation of “in the moment” musical experiences that are not previously rehearsed or performed.
For the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, or "CJO," improvisation goes beyond the saxophone solo. The organization strives to create unique shared experiences that are a one-of-a-kind combination of musicians, venues and audiences so that their concerts are never the same twice.
Now in its 29th year, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra has "turned out some of the most original, innovative and experiential music in northeast Ohio," says Mary Glauser, director of communications and community outreach. Led by Sean Jones, the CJO promotes jazz in its historical and contemporary forms, through concerts with talented jazz musicians, arrangers, composers and educators in northeast Ohio.
CJO’s lineup varies from concert to concert depending on the venue, musicians and arrangements, which allows them to maintain a high level of musicianship. Often, the group takes the form of a trio, a 4-5 member electric band or the 20-25 member big band. The flexibility allows the group to utilize the strength of the talented pool of members and area musicians.
In addition to attracting high-profile musicians, the organization also has a passion for shepherding young talent towards careers in jazz. "The amazing thing about CJO is that we foster young talent and musicians. We’re proud of the fact that many of our musicians go on to tour worldwide," Glauser said.
Most recently, the group fused contemporary jazz and art during its "CJO Plugged In" concert at MOCA Cleveland. The collaboration showcased CJO’s Electric Band, who filled the space with continually evolving music while the galleries were open for concert-goers to explore.
In its second year, the collaboration attracted around 150 attendees. "MOCA Cleveland is proud to continue our collaboration with Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. The improvisation of the Electric Band filled our new building with an exciting energy," said Tom Poole, director of marketing and design at MOCA Cleveland.
In its next "CJO Plugged In" concert, CJO plans to create arrangements and original compositions in response to the exhibition in the space. "We would like to explore other ways to collaborate to advance understanding, interest and opportunity for both art forms," Glauser said.
Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and MOCA Cleveland receive funding through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s general operating support program.
See CJO at one of these upcoming concerts:
Swingin’ at the Temple, Sunday April 7 at 4 p.m., Fairmount Temple Auditorium.
World Beat, Saturday, June 8 at 8 p.m., Allen Theatre.
For tickets or more information, visit www.clevelandjazz.org.