The CNY Jazz Arts Foundation, established in 1998, is now the primary year-round provider of scholastic and public jazz programs for the Upstate New York.

View a timeline history of CNY Jazz.

CNY Jazz’s growing list of programs includes the Cabaret Concert Series, Scholastic Jazz Jams, Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival, Stage of Nations Blue Rain ECOfest, Jazz Vespers Series, SummerJazz Workshop, Jazz in the City, the Black History Month Cabaret Series, Syracuse Parks and Rec Stan Colella “All-Star” Big Band, and more.

CNYJAF serves a total public audience of 80,000 each year, trains more than 4,000 students annually, and presents students in performance to an annual audience of more than 40,000.

To make a donation to CNY Jazz, click here.

Beginnings

Late in 1995, musician and educator Larry Luttinger proposed a not-for-profit regional jazz foundation and orchestra to serve the Central New York community.

Organizations like this had flourished for more than 30 years in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Columbus, and Washington DC to name a few. Outside those large markets, opportunities to present, perform, and teach jazz in a similar way did not exist.

Luttinger recognized that jazz, America’s most significant contribution to world culture, deserves recognition and artistic presentation in every community. He was motivated by the belief that the 21st century will see the proliferation of these orchestras and organizations, just as the 20th century saw the development of American classical music ensembles playing European art music.

Luttinger believes that presenting, performing, and teaching jazz professionally will forge a new legitimacy for an art form that has evolved from the speakeasy to the dance club to the concert hall.

Central New York Jazz Orchestra

Central to the mission, vision, and goals of CNY Jazz, the CNYJO is today a 17-piece big band and the performance arm of the CNYJAF. It was formed in 1996 in cooperation with the Cultural Resources Council of CNY and the CNY Community Foundation, whose funding launched the CNYJO’s inaugural season to critical acclaim.

Jazz Central: CNY’s Busiest Little Theater!

A key element of the organization’s growth, CNY Jazz purchased and renovated a downtown Syracuse property– Jazz Central–which is now the organization’s home, and a venue for theater, comedy, and other performance. Over the years the building has undergone several renovations that have:

  •     Created a 78-seat theater to present scholastic and cabaret productions.
  •     Offered the community meeting, teaching, practice, and performance space.
  •     Provided administrative and box office facilities.
  •     Allowed the development of a growing music library dedicated to preserving the art form of jazz.