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It's hard to sum up in a few words the impact that Lauren has had on me. She's always been supportive and encouraging throughout the entire time I've known her. A true advocate for female musicians, making sure that our voices are heard throughout the city, and just genuinely involved in the jazz community in general. She is a great artist herself, so it will be amazing to see her photography continue to blossom. I'm very grateful for all that she has brought to the Chicago jazz music scene. Her impact is felt.
I met Lauren when I was in high school and aspiring to be a professional jazz musician. I attended a student jam session hosted by JIC and established friendships with fellow young musicians who are still going strong today (Zakiya Powell, Matt Carroll, John Foster, and Coco Elysses were in attendance). Lauren actively facilitated connection/community/collaboration between groups of people—young and old, suburban and urban, audiences and musicians. I also have photographs from that day, because LD was always documenting the scene! Her photo archives of Chicago jazz music are astounding. I remember being impressed by how hip Lauren was—a jazz photographer and leader of a big institute for jazz. An early example for me of someone who serves a community as both artist and leader/advocate.
She later gave me an opportunity to intern at the Jazz Institute when I had just finished college. There wasn't a formal internship program, but she worked with me to create a position in the education department of JIC to work under Diane Chandler-Marshall. I was a part of the team for four more years as a part-time education associate. In those five years as a staff member, I had a chance to get to know Lauren as a collaborative leader. She listens to students, to educators, to staff, to musicians, and she allowed the mission of JIC to adapt and grow in accordance with the needs of our jazz community. Even as an intern, Lauren made me feel like an important member of her team.
Lauren's support for the jazz community is radically holistic. She's championed both the elder statesmen and women of Chicago jazz and the youngest students of the music. She cares about jazz education and the people who teach jazz. She brings the music to venues all over Chicago. She connects generations of musicians to one another. She documents the evolving jazz scene. That kind of full-picture advocacy for jazz has strongly impacted my personal trajectory as a musician and educator. Lauren models for me what it looks like to be involved in the next generation of this music as well as cherish and celebrate the legacy of the music that has come before me.
It's hard to put in a few words the incredible legacy that Lauren Deutsch has carved with the Jazz Institute. Visionary. Inclusive. Humble. Courageous. Genuine. In Chicago, we can't take for granted that we've had something rare that doesn't really exist in any other major city—an organization that's been an idea factory, celebrating jazz in all of its diverse incarnations, permeating all the neighborhoods of Chicago with free concerts, providing exciting monthly jam sessions with jazz masters for underage youth, initiating a network of high school jazz educators to help alleviate their challenges, fostering scholarships for free private lessons for serious youth, establishing a performance series for emerging artists.
She initiated the Made in Chicago festival in Poznan, which brought Chicago jazz artists each year to Poland, and then helped initiated Made in Chicago in Millennium Park. JIC's action never stops all year round, and Lauren has been right in the middle of it! She's been a great friend, mentor, and for myself and many artists, a dream facilitator. I don't know anyone who loves the music more than Lauren or who listens wider. Wherever the music be/was—whether at the Jazz Showcase, the Velvet Lounge, Constellation, Green Mill, with the AACM, Asian Improv Arts Midwest—Lauren is listening, photographing, celebrating right there with you.