I've just come back from a week on a fantastic jazz course with some superb tutors. I'm still buzzing from it and desperately trying to switch to my work persona before something too tricky lands in my inbox.
For all those of you starting out on the jazz route I can't recommend this type of course highly enough. Learning jazz from books and using playalongs is a necessity to most of us, but you don't even get a tiny fraction of what it's all about until you immerse yourself in playing with and respondng to other musicians - that's when it becomes addictive. The added benefit of tuition and guidance from some of the top performers and teachers in the country (and these courses are often crammed full of conservatoire jazz professors) is like having a light bulb switched on.
The course I was on is at www.mehrclef.com and I'd definitely recommend it - there are plenty of others around the country too.