Founded in 1995 by Dale Fitzgerald and Roy Hargrove, the Jazz Gallery's stellar programming has enabled a reputation as "The most imaginatively booked jazz club in New York" (New York Times). As a nonprofit, it has the ability to allow musicians to take creative risks that other jazz venues would be likely to avoid—therefore, the Jazz Gallery is a hub of creativity, a home to jazz musicians/composers, many of them from all over the world but now permanently settled in the United States.

The Jazz Gallery serves an ethnically diverse, international audience that represents a cross section of New York City residents and travelers to New York.  Audiences represent all ages: children are comfortable attending since no alcohol is served, and many college students from NYU and the New School frequent the venue regularly alongside adults of every age. The average ticket price is $10-$20 (occasionally, some special events are $35 or $40). The Jazz Gallery is open three to five nights per week, 50 weeks per year and produces an average of 175 events per year. In 2009 its audience was in excess of 11,000.

The Jazz Gallery produces most of its programming in its own venue, a loft space with walls that also serve as a gallery for artwork relating to jazz. It seats 70 people. The rented space, which has a separate entrance, is on the second floor of a small commercial building. The rear entrance is accessible by elevator. The Jazz Gallery recalls Soho loft spaces of the 1960s and 70s, and conveys an intimacy and warmth that many newcomers comment on.

Thematic series include the Thursday Night Debut Series, a Commissioning Series supported by the Jerome Foundation, large ensemble presentations, and Composer Workshops with Steve Coleman.

In June 2010, The Jazz Gallery presented six concerts at its venue as part of the New York City CareFusion Jazz Festival. Two of the six concerts were webcast by NPR and WBGO. In addition, as part of the CareFusion Jazz Festival, The Jazz Gallery All -Stars appeared at Symphony Space's Peter Norton Theater, launching an initiative to create opportunities for jazz musicians at other larger performance venues.

Over the past 15 years the Jazz Gallery presented 9 of the last 11 winners of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition prior to their winning this competition. Jason Moran, a formidable pianist who has frequented the stage of the Jazz Gallery for more than 10 years, won a MacArthur Award in 2010; in 2008, Miguel Zenon, another musician whose emergence began at the Jazz Gallery, was a MacArthur Recipient. (Miguel is in residence at the gallery 2010-2011.)

Every jazz musician appearing at the Jazz Gallery, emerging and established, knows that this is a venue where they can experiment, try out new material, and grow and develop as artists.