The No Tickets Required Montclair Jazz Festival is back, BIGGER and BETTER than ever! Montclair will once again transform into a destination for thousands of elated music fans as the 7th Annual Montclair Jazz Festival produced by acclaimed Jazz House Kids kicks off nine hours of world-class jazz on Saturday, August 13 in Nishuane Park. And again, it’s all free!
Artistic Director Christian McBride, Mistress of Ceremonies actor S. Epatha Merkerson, and WBGO’s Gary Walker will lead the stage action for the Festival.
This year’s all-star headliners include the Dee Dee Bridgewater Quintet; A Christian McBride Situation; George Coleman Organ Quartet and Louis Prima, Jr. The world-class artists perform on the same stage with more than 200 multi-generational performers including festival favorites The Jazz House Faculty Collective directed by Ed Palermo celebrating the music of David Bowie and Prince; Michele Rosewoman and New Yor-Uba; and nine award-winning Jazz House Kids’ student ensembles and vocal groups ranging in age from 8 to 18.
The Montclair Jazz Festival is the brainchild of jazz vocalist and recording artist Melissa Walker, with creative direction from her husband, Christian McBride, who was just named the Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival taking the reigns from George Wein who is recognized as the creator of the jazz festival concept.
“We are proud that the Montclair Jazz Fest has metamorphosed into one of the largest and greatest free summer events in New Jersey,” said Walker. “Along with the Montclair Film Festival in the spring, the Montclair Jazz Fest has become part of the fabric of our community and a world-class event, solidifying this town’s standing as a thriving arts and cultural destination all year round. An ambitious undertaking, the “no tickets required” Montclair Jazz Festival which attracts thousands of music lovers and families from across the region, would not be possible without the tremendous support of our sponsors, community and government partners and generous individuals who believe in Jazz House Kids’ mission.”
Leading up to Montclair Jazz Festival, special activities are planned throughout the summer. A sponsor kick-off mixer hosted by The Bravitas Group and Silver Family Foundation at Hillside Square is planned for mid-July. In August, the Montclair Jazz Festival will launch its Mid-Day Summer Concert + Symposium Series curated by festival artistic director Christian McBride and featuring special jazz guests alongside Jazz House Kids’ acclaimed faculty. The guest artists, including drum legends Louis Hayes and Billy Hart, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, guitarist Dave Stryker, pianist Harold Mabern, and Montclair Jazz Festival headliners, will also conduct master classes for more than 160 students at the Jazz House Summer Workshop, Jazz House Kids’ nationally recognized summer program. Held at the John J. Cali School of Music’s Leshowitz Hall at Montclair State University, the afternoon concerts (August 8-12, 2:15-3:30 pm), are open to the public with No Tickets Required. For a complete summer concert schedule, visit here.
The Montclair Jazz Festival weekend officially begins with the North Coast Brew Master Festival Kickoff, a dinner and an intimate sampling of highly-rated ales on August 11 at Montclair’s Pig & Prince Restaurant.
Day of Festivities
The Montclair Jazz Festival is a fun-filled day with entertainment for the entire family. New this year, the Festival has an expanded footprint for its Family Jazz Discovery Zone, a collaboration among Jazz House Kids and partners Montclair Public Library and Montclair Art Museum. The “Zone” will feature additional healthy family food vendors, music-related story books read by festival headliners, live music from the youngest Jazz House Summer Workshop students and a host of kid-friendly art activities for wee-boppers and their parents. For a complete schedule rundown of the Zone, visit here.
Also returning to the festival is the popular Beer Garden, sponsored by North Coast Brewing Co. which donates 100% of the proceeds to support Jazz House Kids Music + Education Fund, which raises much needed funds to close the gap in access to music education in schools and communities across New Jersey.
Getting to the Montclair Jazz Festival has never been easier. The FREE Montclair Jazz Festival Shuttle will stop at several new key parking points throughout Montclair and West Orange. An expanded bike valet sponsored by Diamond Cycle will offer free, convenient parking for those traveling by two wheels.
The distinctive and colorful jazz icon portraits by artist Andres Chaparro once again provide the face and overall texture of the Montclair Jazz Festival. This year’s featured artwork is Chaparro’s interpretive portrait of avant-garde saxophonist Albert Ayler. Richard Conde, an acclaimed photographer whose work has been showcased in National Geographic, The New York Times and numerous jazz publications, and official photographer for the Montclair and other prominent festivals including Newport, Conde’s acclaimed work will be on display and for sale at the Montclair Jazz Festival.
The party doesn’t stop after the lights go down- swing with Jazz House Kids at a jam session at Thom’s Saloon (104 Harrison Avenue, West Orange) from 9 pm until closing.