In 1997, local residents Hal Hill and his wife Chris came up with the idea of holding a jazz festival in Markham. Hal is a well-known jazz authority, broadcaster, concert producer and the author of Jazz Canadiana. With the assistance of a team of volunteers, the Markham Jazz Festival made its debut in 1998 - to critical acclaim.
Since then, the Markham Jazz Festival has presented diverse and eclectic jazz performers - performers who are not only drawn from the cream of the crop of Canadian jazz artists, but who also come from a wide variety of other countries, including the U.S.A. and Cuba. The Festival's repertoire spans a variety of genres, including traditional, swing, Latin, fusion, world, Dixieland, and contemporary jazz.