In 1987 the Sioux Falls Jazz Society was founded by a small group of community-minded citizens with a common passion for jazz music. It simply began with informal gatherings of jazz artists coming together to jam and collaborate.
This common passion grew into wanting an expansion to the live music venues and genres present in the city of Sioux Falls. In 1988, the first jazz festival was organized and for the next few years various locations were attempted for other jazz concerts. It was in 1992 the organization changed its name to the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society (SFJB) and became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
In 1994, “Jazzmatazz” was held at the Sioux Falls Canary Stadium with over 3,000 people in attendance. It was in 1996 when the annual festival was named JazzFest and was held at Yankton Trail Pak, where it continues to be held today. In 2000, JazzFest was extended to two days and was extended again in 2009 to three days. In 2018, JazzFest became a two day festival again. Approximately 8,000 people attended in 1996 and the festival has grown ever since. JazzFest had record attendance in 2012 and 2013 when over 125,000 attended the festival over the course of three days both years.
Though JazzFest started as the focal point of the organization, SFJB extended its programming to include weekly jam sessions and concerts at various venues throughout the community. In 1999, SFJB formed the annual Concert Series, which is comprised of five concerts. These concerts run from the fall through the spring of the following year, giving jazz and blues fans live concerts throughout the year.
SFJB has continued to expand their outreach by educating people of all ages about jazz and blues. Starting in 1999, educational activities included educational workshops, master classes, pre-concert presentations, and Q&A with performing artists. In 2000, SFJB began the All City Jazz Ensemble, which started with middle school students and expanded to high school students shortly after.
In 2006, the Jazz Diversity Project (JDP) was launched to teach middle school students about jazz while tying into the History curriculum being taught in schools. Since its beginning, JDP has appeared in over 100 communities in South Dakota for over 37,000 students!
The most recent educational piece SFJB has began is the JazzFest Jazz Camp. The jazz camp brings together students from around the region and United States to expanded their knowledge about jazz. The camp is hosted on the Augustana College campus and concludes with students performing at JazzFest.
SFJB continually strives to enhance the quality of artists brought to Sioux Falls and seeks to find opportunities to educate others. A big thank SFJB supporters, sponsors and the community alike! It is your support that has allowed SFJB to carry out their mission:
“It is the mission of the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society to increase the awareness of jazz and blues music in the Sioux Falls community and region, through musical events and education.”
© 2013 Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society