LCA Remembers Joe Segal

We at LCA were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Joe Segal, founder of Jazz Showcase and one of the luminaries of Chicago Jazz. In 2013 Board Member Tom Leavens had the honor of presenting Segal with our Distinguished Service to the Arts Award at our Annual Benefit. Below are the remarks delivered by Leavens as he presented Joe Segal with the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award.

Thomas R. Leavens
The Palmer House Hotel
October 24, 2013


Living in Chicago gives us many special privileges, and one of those that I have been lucky enough to experience many times is this:  You are sitting in a club, watching a performer or a group play, and you think to yourself – there is no place I would rather be in the world than right here, right now, watching this.  That is a singular experience, and that singular experience is one we in Chicago have been lucky to repeatedly have for over 65 years, thanks to the efforts during those entire 65 years of the person we are honoring here today with our Distinguished Service to the Arts Award to Joe Segal and his Jazz Showcase.

The facts about Joe’s life, and how he started presenting jazz performances in Chicago in 1947, are set out in the Program Book you all have at your tables.  It’s an astounding legacy.  Joe is the longest running music presenter in Chicago of any type.  It’s hard to name a jazz performer who hasn’t played at his club, the Jazz Showcase.  And the audiences and performers who have been influenced by his passion for great jazz must be in the hundreds of thousands. 

What the Program Book doesn’t tell you is that, when you take into account single evening events, Joe has presented jazz performances in 63 Chicago.  He has been undaunted, and incredibly supportive of the City’s great jazz community.  He is a co-founder of the Jazz Institute of Chicago – Chicago’s premiere jazz advocate. Joe contributed mightily to that organization for many years.  Another example, which is really close to my heart, is when Fred Anderson, recipient of this Award several years ago, needed to move his Velvet Lounge club to a new location, Joe opened the doors of the Jazz Showcase for a series of benefit shows to help Fred make that move.  This is just one of many times when Joe, and now his son Wayne, have stepped up and helped the jazz community in so many ways.

So, go to the Jazz Showcase at 806 South Plymouth Court – it’s open seven days a week.  Go for a Sunday matinee and take your kids – 12 and under are free.  And see Joe at the door.  He takes your cash, but most importantly, he says “Hello,” and he says, “Thanks.”  And we say, “Thanks to you Joe for everything you’ve done.”  Please come up here and accept your award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

All of us at LCA extend our condolences to Joe's family on his passing.