"The people who are involved with (the festival) see the beauty of it being all volunteer," says Moulder. "Once you pay one person, even if they are doing a lot, it starts to feel like – different.
"There's just something great about it being completely volunteer, and for charity – as long as I can keep it manageable."
In the short-term, Moulder hopes to obtain sponsorships to help underwrite the festival, so it isn't entirely dependent on audience turnout. Considering the growing prominence of the event and its inarguably noble cause, it would seem just a matter of time before Chicago foundations and corporations want to put their logos alongside that of the Chi-Town Jazz Festival.
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3855 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
806 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
11 East Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
2110 Sheridan Road, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60201, USA
4802 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
555 North Sheridan Road, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
220 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60604, USA
At the very least, though, there's no question that the event is not only raising money that's desperately needed to fight hunger but also generating audiences for a music that Moulder has valued since his childhood in the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff area. This year, for instance, the festival will feature more high school bands than ever before, part of Moulder's attempt to lure young audiences (and their parents) to jazz venues they otherwise might not yet have discovered.
In addition, rising young figures such as pianist Clearfield, trumpeter Marquis Hill and others enable Moulder to remind listeners that jazz isn't just about past masters.
In coming years, Moulder hopes to push into venues on the South Side and the suburbs, as he expands the reach of the festival.
"It's got a certain momentum," says Moulder. "But I don't want to spread us too thin – I always want to have a good house."
So far, that hasn't been a problem.
To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich
Chi-Town Jazz Festival lineup
Following is the complete schedule for the 4th annual Chi-Town Jazz Festival, with minimum required donation listed below; for details, visit chitownjazzfestival.org.
March 12: Glenbrook South Jazz Ensemble; Glenbrook South Jazz Lab Band; Aaron Koppel Quartet; Rob Clearfield Quintet; IndigoSun; 7:30 p.m. at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave.; $15; 773-404-9494 or martyrslive.com.
March 13: Lyons Township High School Jazz Ensemble; Merit School Honors Jazz Combo; Ron Friedman Trio; Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble; John Moulder Quartet; 7 p.m. at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court; $10-$15; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com.
March 14: Bobby Lewis Quartet; Tammy McCann and the Reunion Orchestra; Marlene Rosenberg Quartet; Eric Schneider Quartet with Cheryl Wilson; 5:30 p.m. at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.
March 15: Ken Hall and John Moulder; 7:30 p.m. at Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University, 2110 Sheridan Road, Evanston; $10-$25; 847-328-4648. Also, Dennis Luxion/Michael Raynor Quartet; "3" with Brad Williams, Eric Hochberg and Jim Widlowski; and Christopher McBride's Quatuor de Force; 9 p.m. at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $15; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com.
March 17: Fred Simon Quintet (with Dave Onderdonk and John Moulder); 3 p.m. at Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel at Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest; $10-$20; 847-234-3100.
March 22: Monterey Jazz Festival 55th Anniversary; 8 p.m. at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $25 (above the cost of tickets for this already scheduled concert) for drawing to win season tickets; 312-294-3000 or cso.org.