Montclair, NJ – Great news for jazz fans — Montclair Jazz Festival is back and bigger for 2021! The award-winning festival produced by Jazz House Kids moves to downtown Montclair to support businesses across town.

The 12th-annual Montclair Jazz Festival is making up for lost time by expanding to 35 hours of live jazz, spanning over three months, starting with two Thursday evening concerts in July and two full-Saturdays of performances in August, leading up to a Jamboree Grand Finale the week of September 20th.

“After such trying times for all humanity in 2020 and the beginning of 2021, being able to bring the Montclair Jazz Festival back this year is a miracle, a blessing and a gift,” said Christian McBride. “Pablo Picasso once said that ‘art washes away the dust of everyday life’, but Art Blakey specified that quote to ‘music washes away the dust of everyday life.’ After the last 16 months, we’ll be washing off a lot of dust at this year’s Montclair Jazz Fest.”

Downtown Groove

Montclair Jazz Festival moves to Montclair’s downtown corridor, with the center of festivities happening at the new Lackawanna Plaza summer pop-up venue. The Grand Finale events in September spreads west down Bloomfield Avenue, turning it into a pedestrian musical playground after 10 years in Nishuane Park in the town’s South End.

“The Grand Finale of the Montclair Jazz Fest found a beloved home in Nishuane Park,” said Melissa Walker. “The South End of town has historical roots within the African American community and was pitch-perfect for the celebration of America’s home-grown music called jazz, rootedin the African-American experience and struggle in America, and now embraced around the world.”

“This year, due to the pandemic we felt it was important to present a series of concerts throughout the summer to bring people together again, and for the Grand Finale to keep people moving with four stages and to be able to support local businesses across Montclair hard-hit by the pandemic.”

Two brand-new presenting sponsors join for a brand-new festival — BDP Holdings, LLC led by Lackawanna developer David Placek and the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID), led by executive director Jason Gleason. BDP and the BID take the reins from Rhonda and Bob Silver, The Bravitas Group/Silver Family Foundation, presenting sponsors since 2014, who helped the festival grow — in 2019, for the 10th Anniversary, attendance toppled 20,000 people over the course of two weeks; 15,000 in Nishuane Park alone for the grand finale.

“My wife Bridget and I are honored to take the baton from the Bravitas Group and Bob and Rhonda Silver, who have helped build the Montclair Jazz Fest into an important cultural destination for our town. We are thrilled to partner with the Jazz House and Montclair Center BID as we look towards the future, bringing this fantastic live music event downtown this summer, in-person, bigger and better than ever,” said David Placek, Managing Partner of BDP Holdings. “We hope to see our community with their families come in big numbers and often over the summer. No tickets — or computer screens — required!”

Live Jazz, In-Person, All Summer Long!

The new downtown location will support local businesses hard-hit by the past 15 months of unprecedented events.

“The Montclair Center BID has been working closely with the Jazz House and BDP Holdings for months to bring the festival downtown,” said Jason Gleason. “We are so proud to partner on this world-renowned festival and welcome thousands of visitors to our Montclair Center businesses. This unprecedented event will springboard our community into a fresh season of recovery, renewal and growth.”

This summer, renowned chefs Damon Wise and Lauren Hirschberg will open Pineapple Express Barbecue, a pop-up restaurant and beer garden at the historic Lackawanna Railroad Terminal. According to Hirschberg, chef and owner of Montclair favorite Turtle & the Wolf, he and his partner Wise, chef and owner of Wise Meats, beef, pork and chicken will be smoked on-site over local cherry and oak woods, with counter service ordering, mobile bars, picnic table seating and yard games.

“Damon and I are very excited to open Pineapple Express Barbecue and partnering with the Montclair Jazz Festival was a natural fit,” said Lauren Hirschberg. “Lackawanna Plaza and the Montclair Jazz Festival are both pillars of the Montclair community and we hope to create a space that brings people together through music and barbecue.”

“This event is always spectacular, but with the pandemic still raging in early 2021, we thought we might have to plan our second virtual festival. But we were determined to bring us back together again in-person this year, something that we felt was critical to the healing of this community,” said Melissa Walker. “If there was ever a time to tap into the healing power of music, it’s now.”


Thursdays, JULY 15 + 22 | 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Lackawanna Soundcheck Series
The 2021 MONTCLAIR JAZZ FEST produced by JAZZ HOUSE KiDS heats things up with two summer evening concerts:
July 15 – Story Tellers featuring Alex Laurenzi open for Cocomama’s eight-piece all-female Latin jazz orchestra
July 22 – Chica Power All-Stars open for Dave Stryker’s 8 Track Band featuring Warren Wolf, a celebration of classic pop tunes from the 70’s reimagined.

Saturdays, AUGUST 7 + 14
Lackawanna Block Parties
The MONTCLAIR JAZZ FEST returns for two all-day Saturday block parties with JAZZ HOUSE emerging musicians and an amazing array of all-stars for two jam-packed days

Saturday, AUGUST 7 | 1:00 – 9:00 PM
World-renowned trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, the Kelly Green Trio, Lee Hogans & Pursuance

Saturday, AUGUST 14
1:00 – 6:00 PM
Irwin Hall Organ Trio and Lauren Sevian Quartet
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Dance Party with DJ Brother Mister
Capping off the summer series with an old school funk + soul party featuring DJ Brother Mister aka 7x GRAMMY winner Christian McBride

Sept 22 – Sept 25

Wednesday, September 22 | 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Jazz film screening curated by Montclair Film’s Tom Hall, plus “Inside Scoop” Jazz Reception for Friends of the Festival

Thursday, SEPTEMBER 23 | 6:00 – 10:00 PM
Green in Blue: Cocktails + Concert in a Garden
New this year – VIP Special Event! In a nod to Miles Davis’ ballad on his 1959 iconic album Kind of Blue, our corporate partners, Take 5 Club members and guest artists mix and mingle with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the historic Van Vleck House + Gardens under the stars followed by an intimate all-star concert with musical direction by Christian McBride.

Saturday, September 25 | 1:00 – 9:00 pm
Downtown Jamboree Grand Finale
A jam-packed exciting day of free inspiring live music on four stages featuring an array of musicians, local artisan food and craft vendors, and family activities zone.

For more information about line up dates, and how to get involved as a festival sponsor, individual supporter, vendor or volunteer, visit or email