The Twin Cities Jazz Festival has good reason to celebrate this year. It’s the festival’s 15th anniversary. Festivities get under way June 27-29 in Mears Park located downtown St. Paul. Admission to Jazz Fest is free.
Jazz Fest Executive Director Steve Heckler has confirmed the headlining artists for this year. The complete schedule will be announced shortly.
Jazz fans can expect to experience a colorful variety of music performed on three stages with additional jazz artists performing in downtown restaurants and clubs.
Here are the highlights: Friday, June 28, pianist and composer Kenny Werner performs at 8:30 pm; Saturday, June 29, St. Paul native drummer Matt Slocum is joined by tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III at 6 pm followed by a performance by pianist Cyrus Chestnut at 8:30 pm.
Local jazz fans may recall seeing Slocum and Smith performing together at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul a few years back; I do. They sound amazing together. Werner and Chestnut are returning to the Twin Cities again for what seems like an extended break. The last time I heard Chestnut perform, was in New York City at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the in-house nightclub of Jazz at Lincoln Center. However, I also heard him play with a band at the Dakota a long, long time ago.
Smith is shining in the spotlight lately as he recently signed a record deal with Concord Records, and plays with the new up-and-coming NEXT Collective, among other groups. Slocum, Smith, Werner, and Chestnut — all bandleaders and composers in their own right — have released new albums over the last three years.
Werner, Slocum, Smith, and Chestnut have also been confirmed for conducting summer workshops with kids during the festival. Clinics will be hosted by McNally Smith College of Music (a few blocks away from Mears Park).
In addition to the main stage in Mears Park, on Saturday, a second stage will again be set up adjacent to Mears Park on 6th Street. The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education will be programming and hosting the youth stage on Prince Street.
Twin Cities Jazz Festival hours are: Thursday, June 27, 6-10 pm on the Mears Park Main Stage and jazz in local clubs from 8 pm to midnight; Friday, June 28, 4-10 pm on the Mears Park Main Stage and jazz in local restaurants and clubs until 1 am; Saturday, June 29, 2-10 pm on the Mears Park Main Stage and 6th Street Stages; Jazz in local restaurants and clubs until 1 am.
The Twin Cities Jazz Festival, one of the region’s premier music festivals, attracts top jazz artists and has garnered nationwide attention.
For more information about the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, visit twincitiesjazzfestival.com.
Robin James welcomes reader responses to jamesonjazz[email protected]