Montclair, NJ – It’s been a summer of firsts for Jazz House Kids and its award-winning Montclair Jazz Festival. For the first time in 12 years, the Montclair Jazz Festival reinvented itself. First there was a magical summer series of evening concerts in July and all-day swinging block parties in August attended by thousands of music fans. Now, the favorite regional music festival brings us back together again in early autumn for a Montclair Jazz Fest grand finale with two don’t-miss events. First, it’s Blue in Green: Cocktails and a Concert in a Garden, a ticketed event for patrons, supporters and partners on September 23. Then get ready for dancing in the streets, when Montclair Jazz Fest takes over Bloomfield Avenue with its Downtown Jamboree, a jam-packed exciting full day of free(!) inspiring live music and activities on Saturday, September 25, from 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. 

Come and hear internationally acclaimed headliners, regional favorites and emerging talent perform on four stages along an all-pedestrian Bloomfield Avenue, from Lackawanna Plaza to South Park. You’ll experience a nearly half-mile long jazz playground with more than 100 artisan food and craft vendors plus a Family Jazz Discovery Zone with partners Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library and the YMCA of Montclair!

Produced by Jazz House Kids with Artistic Director and festival curator, 7-time Grammy Award-winning bassist Christian McBride, Montclair Jazz Fest brings a diverse range of styles, ages, and talent featuring gospel, soul, Latin and traditional jazz. The Grand Finale showcases powerhouse jazz vocalists and instrumentalists delivering dynamic live performances and much more. Headliners include:

Danielle Ponder
Christian McBride All-Stars featuring Mike Stern, Chris Potter and Justin Faulkner<.li>
  • The Baylor Project
  • Sean Jones Quartet
  • Alicia Olatuja
  • Billy Hart Quartet
  • Zaccai Curtis Afro-Cuban Jazz Quartet featuring Yosvany Terry
  • Camille Thurman Quintet
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa Hero Trio featuring Linda May Han Oh and Dan Weiss
  • Emmet Cohen Trio
  • JAZZ HOUSE Collective in tribute to Roy Hargrove 
  • Danielle Ponder (performing at the Blue in Green on Thursday)
  • JAZZ HOUSE All-Star Alumni Ensembles
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa

    This year, McBride’s All-Star Band will feature heralded saxophonist Chris Potter, one of the greatest contemporary jazz guitarists of his time, Mike Stern and fellow Philly native, drummer Justin Faulkner.  

    Christian McBride

    Jazz House Kids mission in action and its commitment to fostering the next generation of jazz musicians will also be on full display with ensembles led by talented Jazz House alumni. Since its inception 18 years ago, the award-winning nonprofit, which taps into America’s original art form to transform lives, has invested $13.5 million in year-round jazz education, mentoring and leadership programs that bridge the gap in the arts.  The Jazz House legacy grows with the long list of young talented musicians who got their start at the Jazz House making a name for themselves on the jazz scene today — Matthew Whitaker, Julian Lee, Immanuel Wilkins, Coleman Hughes, Zoe Obadia, Isaiah Thompson to name a few.  

    Making It Happen: It Takes A Town Team  

    To bring the vision for 12th annual Montclair Jazz Fest to life, producer Jazz House Kids partnered with two new presenting sponsors for a brand-new festival — BDP Holdings, LLC led by David Placek, visionary developer and owner of the key festival site Lackawanna Plaza, and the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID), led by executive director Jason Gleason, representing over 300 retailers and restaurants along Bloomfield Avenue and nearby adjacent streets.  

    “Despite the challenges faced by this community during the pandemic, we have continued to build a stronger, more vibrant, downtown Montclair with the amazing people and organizations found right here,” said Jason Gleason.  “This downtown Jazz Festival is another huge step to bring us together and we are so proud to be a part of it.” 

    (from left) Dave and Bridget Placek, Melissa Walker and Jason Gleason.

    “As Montclair residents, Montclair business owners, and all-around big fans of Montclair, we are proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Montclair Jazz Fest, alongside Montclair Center BID,” said David Placek.  “After a trying year and a half, we love that we can bring music to the streets of Montclair – a salve for the soul.”

    According to Melissa Walker, founder + president of Jazz House Kids and the creator of the Montclair Jazz Festival, the opportunity to expand partnerships and work with the Montclair Township and Essex County officials to close Bloomfield Avenue for the Downtown Jamboree was an important move, coming out of an unprecedented year of hardship for many local businesses and individuals.  

    “With the right ingredients, we knew the Montclair Jazz Fest could be a powerful tool to help bring our community come back together again.  By expanding the festival offering over three months, from July to September, allowed us to stretch out and put a lot of musicians to work to thrill our fans and help boost local business,” said Melissa Walker. “The Montclair Jazz Fest embodies so much that is wonderful about our cherished Montclair community — resiliency, access, inclusion, diversity, multi-generational engagement, mentorship, youth development and public-private partnerships.”

    “The Downtown Jamboree in September will build on this community spirit for a mega day of coming together with a shared passion for arts and music — one of the many things that makes Montclair a destination town for people all over the region,” Walker said.


    Special VIP Event! Blue in Green
    Thursday, September 23
    6:00 PM Cocktails | 8:00 PM Concert

    In homage to Miles Davis’ ballad on his 1959 iconic album Kind of Blue, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS and its presenting sponsors BDP Holdings and Montclair Center BID host Blue + Green, Cocktails + a Concert in a Garden for sponsors, partners and VIP guests.  Held in the beautiful botanical grounds of the historic Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair, the evening will feature cocktails and bites, with accompaniment by the JAZZ HOUSE Alumni All-Stars, followed by a champagne toast with Christian McBride and special musical guests.  

    The evening culminates with an exclusive and area-premiere performance by singer DANIELLE PONDER, a powerful storyteller for today through her authentic songwriting and unforgettable voice. Ms. Ponder performs just on the heels of her acclaimed Newport Jazz Festival debut receiving multiple standing ovations for her soulful and stirring performance.


    Saturday, September 25 | 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM

    The Montclair Jazz Festival Downtown Jamboree moves downtown from Nishuane Park in the South End of town to support the vibrant main business district. Bloomfield Avenue will be closed to traffic at Grove St. to Midland Ave. from 7:00 AM to 12 midnight on festival day to allow for a nearly ½ mile pedestrian walkway with two headliner main stages bookending the festival on Lackawanna Plaza and Lackawanna Avenue and two street stages featuring Jazz House Alumni Alumni All-Star bands, and an avenue-length culinary center and artisan marketplace featuring diverse vendors from throughout New Jersey including specialty culinary products like herb and fruit ice pops, flavored oils and vinegars, gourmet pizza, jewelry, clothing, handwoven products, photographs, art and more.

    For the latest information about line up, schedules, special event tickets, how to get involved, how to get there, where to park and safety guidelines, visit the MONTCLAIR JAZZ FEST website.