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GI Jams

Every Thursday 6pm-8pm (Food Provided)

The GI Jams are designed to give students a practical and educational platform to harness and develop their individual skills while learning professionalism and performance etiquette while sharing the stage with some of the greatest musicians and educators in the Midwest.

Each week a different professional musician will host the GI Jams. The set-lists are made available one week prior to the GI Jam.  Students may sign up for no more than 2 selections and may add their name as a "Stand BY" on as many selections as they desire.

If you are a professional musician who would like to volunteer at the Griffin Institute by hosting a Jam Session, please contact us at (708) 973-4354 or educate@thegriffininstitute.org

11/2/17 Chris Denman & The Chicago Christian H.S. Jazz Band

  Mr. Denman has been the band director for Southwest Chicago Christian Schools from 2008 until present but has also directed the bands in the Brookwood School District 167 (Glenwood, IL) from 1999 until 2008. He has been teaching band for 20 years, saxophone for 28 years, and has been performing in jazz and rock bands (as well as classical ensembles) for over two decades. Chris has provided clinics for many schools and assemblies in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan including Bloomington, Normal, Steger, Crete, Park Forest, Glenwood, Homewood, Flossmoor, Lincoln, Chicago Heights, South Bend, Holland, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo. His clinics included saxophone technique, jazz ensemble work, jazz composition, jazz improvisation, conducting, praise team genesis, music business, concert band techniques, woodwind techniques, music theory, and arranging.    Mr. Denman has also worked extensively with praise teams on saxophone, flute, clarinet, penny whistle, cornet, trombone, and drum set. He is currently serving with Living Springs Community Church located in Glenwood, Illinois, but has also provided services for Crete Reformed Church in Crete, Illinois, Living Grace Church in Lynwood, Illinois, Faith Protestant Church in Park Forest, Illinois, Palos Heights CRC, Faith CRC in Tinley Park, New Hope Church in Alsip, New Life Church in New Lenox, and has performed for various RCA assemblies throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Mr. Denman is also a member of the Southland Jazz Ensemble, which consists of professional musicians around Chicagoland, and various pit orchestras that perform in Chicago Heights, Beverly, and Oak Lawn.   The Chicago Jazzy Funkrock Experiment is another project led by Mr. Denman. With Chris Denman as the mainstay of this group on horns, the rest of the band is made up of the best jazz and rock musicians in the Chicagoland area. They have played together through various churches, the Southland Jazz Ensemble, R & B projects, pit orchestras, original rock groups, cover bands, jazz combos, and community bands. The music CJFE brings to the table includes mainly original compositions, arranged jazz, funk, and rock standards, and new compositions written at each venue on the spot. “Group composition” is a marvel to watch as brand new songs formulate right before an audience, sometimes changing as the dynamic of the audience changes. The energy is always intense, as all performers are virtuosos on their given instruments, but can vary from mellow to white hot. Although the music is mainly original, the accessibility of it to a new audience is astounding. Audience members can’t help but move while listening to this music.   Most of the music Mr. Denman leads as director or musician can be found on his You Tube Channel, “Chris Denman Jazz”.   Chris resides in Park Forest with his wife, Rhonda, and five children.  

Chicago Christian High School Jazz Band   The CCHS Jazz Band focuses on a blend of jazz, rock, classical, and Latin influences to create its own music as well as rearrange existing music. Its focus is on composition and improvisation. Like Duke Ellington did for his musicians, the music is catered to the members of the band each year. They write and arrange music based on the strengths of the musicians. The template for this ensemble was modeled after the Chicago Jazz Funkrock Experiment.    



"Deliverance From Egypt"


"Fur Elise"

"Doo Be Doo"

"Smells Like Teen Spirit"

11/9/17 Samuel Jewell

Chicago bred. Old Soul. Gifted. Talented. Drummer. Percussionist. Educator. These words and more can be used to describe the 25-year-old South side drummer, Samuel Jewell. 

Samuel Jewell picked up his first pair of sticks at the age of 5. Since then, they've been inseparable. He began to play the drums professionally at the age of 15. 

In the past five years Samuel has played multiple festivals, including The Elkhart Jazz Festival in Elkhart, Indiana, as well as the internationally recognized, Chicago Jazz Festival. Most recently, Samuel Jewell and his band, ItzUs, performed at the world’s largest art competition, ArtPrize IN Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has worked with multiple recording artists and musicians, such as Tammy McCann, Chantay Savage, Marquis Hill, Willie Pickens, Gerald Wilson, Jason Marsalis, the Lionel Hampton Big Band and many more. 

Samuel's gift has opened many doors for him to travel nationally and internationally, as he participated in Bloemfontein, South Africa's Macufe Manguang Africa Cultural Festival which also featured groundbreaking artist and musician, Chrisette Michele and Earl Klugh. 

When he is not performing, Samuel is the drum and percussion instructor at Brooks Middle School and teaches private lessons. 

GI Spotlight

Our CEO/President is named a Semi-Finalist for the 2017 Grammy Award for Music Educator. Congratulations Dr. Griffin

The Jazz Institute of Chicago has also selected Dr. Griffin as a 2017 Jazz Educator of the Year along with David Bloom.

GI Student, Jamal Cole, inducted into the National Honor Society


On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Jamal received a great honor by being inducted into the National Honor Society. Jamal is a Junior at Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills, IL. under the musical direction of Valeaka Freeman. We are extremely proud of this phenomenal young man.

About Us


      The Griffin Institute of Performing Arts utilizes music, theater, and dance to assist diverse learners ages 5-18 years of age in discovering their full potential through award-winning instructional strategies and a strong commitment to student success. We aim to provide communities of need with the gift of the arts. Our hope is to unite individuals from all walks of life while creating valuable and educational experiences for all stakeholders.      

8-week courses begin Fall 2017

      Our 8-week sessions include progressive,   content-based courses in the areas of music, theater, and dance. These custom courses are offered through   our course catalogue and will be taught by experienced staff. Additional instruction includes private and   group lessons, workshops, master-classes, and performance opportunities.       

Serving our students

      The Griffin Institute commits itself to community outreach and youth development. This is done through the hosting of career days, mentorin groups, and community performances. Although our programs will be open to the public, our focus will be students and public schools in communities of need. We seek to provide instruction to at-risk students and those that are unable to receive quality education. Staff members include certified and non-certified teachers, artists and professionals from various occupations. Volunteers, community members, and business owners are encouraged to help forward our mission of enhancing the lives of children through the performing arts. These partnerships will assist GIPA in creating valuable, creative, and relevant educational experiences for   our members.       



The Griffin Institute  believes that education is the key to success. We encourage students to unlock as many doors as possible.

We offer 8-week courses that corresponds with academic fiscal year. Our courses are taught by award winning instructors and professionals.

Take a look at our course catalogue by clicking on the "enrollment" tab at the top of this page.

Enrollment for 8-week courses include general membership.  

Fall 2017 Schedule will be available July 1, 2017

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding courses.


The Griffin Institute understands that throughout life, the most successful individuals had mentorship to help guide them.  All of our members will receive mentorship and guidance from our knowledgable staff and community.

The Griffin Institute tracks its students from Kindergarten through college to ensure academic, social, and professional success.


The Griffin Institute is a community of students, artists, teachers, and professionals from various career paths who are uniting to provide children with experiences that will prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Contact Us

The Griffin Institute of Performing Arts

14200 Chicago Rd, Dolton, Illinois 60419, United States

(708) 973-4354

Drop us a line!