The Contemporary Jazz Orchestra is a 16-piece jazz ensemble featuring top-notch musicians of the Bay Area. In January of 1995, CJO founder and saxophonist Christopher Pitts established his hand-selected band as an exciting be-bop and post-bop experience, featuring the music of Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, Frank Foster, Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus. In April of 2000, Pitts relocated to Boston, leaving the orchestra in the hands of saxophonist/arranger Alex Budman. In the five years under Budman's direction, original arrangements were added and recorded, giving the band a unique identity and a new bent toward original music. Alex relocated to Los Angeles in 2005, leaving the band with CJO veteran saxophonist and arranger Tod Dickow.
The CJO has featured many talented vocalists including Kim Nalley, Duane Lawrence, Jamie Davis, Denise Perrier and Kenny Washington.
During its long history, the band has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Fillmore Street Jazz Festival, KCSM's Jazz on the Hill, Spreckels Performing Arts Series, KXJZ's Waterfront concerts, SF's Black and White Ball and Yoshi's Jazz House.