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May 312013
 

[Updated June 21] Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. Beaches reopen, and the jazz festival season follows close on their heels. Indeed, the first major festival kicks off this Friday, before June has even begun.

Under the Waterfront Tent at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

Under the Waterfront Tent at the
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

By J. R. Carroll

At this point, more than a few festivals are still settling their lineups, schedules, and, in some cases, their dates. And when they do, we’ll post Fuse News items about them, and update this article as well.

For many other festivals, though, it’s not too early to be making your own plans. A chronological listing of upcoming festivals can be found at the end of this article; links within the geographical survey will take you to the relevant festival information within the chronological listing, where you will find a direct link to the festival site and can also easily see what else is going on around the same date.

Since the festival season starts in Vermont, we’ll begin our survey north of the Massachusetts border.

Northern New England

The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival has clearly drawn some inspiration from its sprawling late-June counterpart across the northern border in Montreal. The festival runs for ten days, with a host of free daily outdoor events leading up to ticketed evening concerts and club gigs with modest covers (or none at all). Many of the headlining artists (including Branford Marsalis, Dave Douglas, The Fringe, Helen Sung, Poncho Sanchez and Greg Tardy) will participate in “meet the artist” sessions. Of particular note are a Sun Ra listening session with Bob Blumenthal and a workshop with Brian Boyes on “The Intersection of Global and Creative Music”, preliminary to a performance by Boyes’ Saturn People’s Sound Collective.

Vermont’s eastern neighbor’s sole entry, the New Hampshire Bass Fest (full schedule TBA), is something of a niche affair that nonetheless promises some intriguingly unpredictable meetings of bassists across several genres.

Further east, Maine’s Lincoln Arts Festival Jazz Weekend will mostly be of interest to vacationers and local residents in Boothbay Harbor, but Stonington’s Deer Isle Jazz Festival can boast appearances by Cuban reedman Yosvany Terry and pianist Fred Hersch. The lineup and schedule for Mt. Desert Island’s mid-August Bar Harbor Jazz Festival are still TBA.

Next, we head southwest to Connecticut.

Connecticut

A few years back, New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas presented a new theatrical work entitled “Chautauqua!”, and indeed this festival falls very much in the tradition of that 19th-century movement with its emphasis on enlightening audiences with a mingling of educational events (lectures, discussions, etc.) and the performing arts. Spanning two weeks and the cultures of six continents (unless some penguins show up), the highly diverse festival may only include a single strictly jazz performance (bassist Christian McBride’s Inside Straight), but it also features literally a world of performers who fuse jazz elements with their specific national traditions and those of others.

In contrast, the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Essex is almost the polar opposite, an assemblage of regional and local bands playing traditional jazz.

The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz throws a spotlight on the city’s lively jazz scene with a weekend of free performances. Highlights include trumpeter Arturo Sandoval on Friday, and Sunday evening’s “Passing the Torch: 3 Generations”, described thusly: “This ambitious project will collect [Hartford's] elders, the current, and the up-and-coming…[into] three groups representing three generations of afro-caribbean/latin jazz, jazz/blues organ groups, and ‘straight-ahead’ jazz
performers currently operating in our community.”

Litchfield Jazz Festival Banner

Litchfield Jazz Festival Banner
Photo by Antonio Monteiro

Connecticut’s premier summer jazz event is the early August Litchfield Jazz Festival. The three days of performances are highlighted by bassist Avery Sharpe’s Gospel Explosion & Sacred Songs, artist-in-residence Gary Smulyan’s Baritone Summit (with fellow bari players Lauren Sevian, Claire Daly and Andrew Hadro), vocalist Gregory Porter, and Eddie Palmieri’s Latin Jazz Band on Saturday. Wrapping things up on Sunday will be the Orrin Evans Trio, the Don Braden Quartet featuring Geri Allen, the Vincent Herring-Eric Alexander Quintet featuring Harold Mabern, and trombonist/composer/arranger Papo Vázquez and his Mighty Pirates Troubadours.

Bringing it all back home, the New Haven Jazz Festival runs a week with performances in multiple local venues. Although the weekday and Sunday lineups and schedule are TBA, we do know that you can catch vocalist Giacomo Gates on Friday, and the Wayne Escoffery Sextet and the Curtis Brothers with Natalie Fernandez on Saturday.

And now, for something completely different, we head to the Berkshires.

The Berkshires

Solid Sound at MassMOCA

Solid Sound at MassMOCA

Aptly sited at MassMOCA in North Adams, the Solid Sound Festival isn’t quite as out there as the Edinburgh Fringe, but it’s not a bad comparison. The collective brainchild of Wilco, who perform together as a band during the festival and also have individual side projects, Solid Sound goes well beyond music to incorporate art installations, stand-up comedy, film screenings, and—oh, yes—”an urban birding walk…guided star gazing…an axe restoration demonstration…a ‘make-your-own musical instrument and jam session’ for kids…discussions and demonstrations on home brewing, raising backyard chickens, making hot sauce…” (you get the drift). Amidst this swirl of activity you can catch Border Music (with guitarists Marc Ribot and David Hidalgo); Medeski, Martin and Wood; and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline in duet with Julian Lage. (It’s unclear whether Wilco percussionist Glenn Kotche will be playing faucets.)

The lineup and schedule are still in the works, but if you head back to MassMOCA in mid-July you’re bound to encounter a panoply of fascinating and unusual musical performances at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival.

The Tanglewood Jazz Festival seems to be history, but Lee’s Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend fills some of the gap with concerts by guitarist Freddie Bryant’s quartet, and by the Greg Caputo Big Band with guest Phil Woods.

Foliage season will be underway when the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival returns. Spanning more than two weeks, the festival’s lineup and schedule are still largely TBA, but apparently will include a tribute by the Brubeck Brothers to their father, Dave, who passed away last year.

Next, we head east.

Central Massachusetts

Walter "Wolfman" Washington

Catch Walter “Wolfman” Washington at
Paulie’s NOLA Blues and Jazz Festival

Worcester seems like an improbable locale for a heaping slice of the Big Easy, but Paulie’s NOLA Blues and Jazz Festival is back again with a weekend’s worth of music from the New Orleans Suspects; Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters; George Porter, Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners; and headlining vocalist Irma Thomas.

Greenfield’s Green River Festival is one of the state’s foremost gatherings of roots music and Americana, but it manages to slip a bit of jazz into the mix—this year it’s the Bernie Worrell Orchestra.

Further out on the horizon are September’s Northampton Jazz Festival and October’s Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival, which wraps up the festival season. Lineups and schedules for both events are still TBA.

And now it’s on to New England’s southeast coast.

Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod

The shores of Buzzard’s Bay are home to the next two festivals. Mid-June’s New Bedford JazzFest is a single-day event with strong ties to UMass—Dartmouth, this year featuring performances by reedman Dino Govoni, pianist John Harrison III and the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra, among others.

It’s unclear whether Wareham’s Onset Beach Jazz Festival is happening at all in 2013; we’ll update you with its status (and, we hope, its lineup and schedule) as soon as we find out.

Wayne Shorter's 80th Birthday Celebration at the Newport Jazz Festival

Wayne Shorter headlines
the Newport Jazz Festival

87-year-old NEA Jazz Master George Wein is still at the helm—and at the keyboard with his All Stars—for the internationally renowned Newport Jazz Festival. With three constantly active stages, there’s no way you can catch everything, but Wayne Shorter’s 80th birthday performance with his quartet and guest pianist Herbie Hancock has to be at the top of the list. Amidst the constellation of truly eminent artists, don’t overlook the Middle Eastern flavors brought by trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and qanun player Ali Amr, and exploratory sounds courtesy of trombonist Ray Anderson, guitarist Mary Halvorson, saxophonist Donny McCaslin, guitarist David Gilmore, and three separate projects involving saxophonist Steve Coleman.

The Provincetown Jazz Festival returns with its strangely bifurcated schedule. Saturday in Provincetown itself there’ll be the New Guitar Summit with Jay Geils, Howard Alden and Gerry Beaudoin, as well as guitarist Jane Miller with saxophonist Cercie Miller and bassist David Clark. Skipping Sunday, the festival resumes on Monday in Cotuit with vocalist Donna Byrne (with pianist Tim Ray, bassist Marshall Wood and drummer Bart Weisman), and a quartet comprised of reedman Bruce Abbott, guitarist Fred Fried, bassist Michael Lavoie and drummer Miki Matsuki.

We circle back to Buzzard’s Bay in October for the region’s final event, JazzFest Falmouth. Friday night features the festival’s annual Jazz Stroll, while the Tierney Sutton Band headlines Saturday’s events.

Last but certainly not least, it’s back to Boston.

Greater Boston

The Cambridge River Festival reliably populates its jazz stage with some of the top musicians from the Boston area. This year is no exception: Tre Corda, the Ron Savage Trio, the Marco Pignataro Jazzet, the Kevin Harris Project, and the Joel Larue Smith Afro Cuban Jazz Trio.

Three weeks later and right next door we find Joe’s Jazz and Blues Fest, the brainchild of Mayor Joe Curtatone, who developed a love of jazz playing trumpet in the Somerville High School jazz band. The current edition of the band opens the afternoon, which also includes a 2 p.m. set by saxophonist Brett Walberg and wraps up with a closing performance by those durable masters of spontaneous improvisation, the Fringe, that should leave the younger musicians wide-eyed.

Somerville ArtBeat is the essence of a community festival, this year with a “Micro” theme challenging the city’s artists, musicians, dancers and others to create something imaginative (if tiny). The lineup and schedule are still TBA.

Similarly community-focused is Festival Betances, centered in the South End’s Villa Victoria and celebrating diverse aspects of Latino culture. This year’s lineup and schedule are still in progress, but no doubt will include some first-rate Latin jazz.

Boston’s Summer Arts Weekend really doesn’t offer much in the way of straight-ahead jazz, but it does feature free performances by Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on Friday and Angelique Kidjo and Red Baraat on Saturday.

The Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport

The Shalin Liu Performance Center
hosts the Rockport Jazz Festival

I don’t know how the Four Freshmen wound up in the middle of it, but in all other respects the Rockport Jazz Festival has put together a fine lineup: vocalists Roberta Gambarini on Wednesday and Kurt Elling on Friday, violinist Regina Carter on Saturday, and the duo of saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo on Sunday.

The Salem Jazz and Soul Festival leans heavily towards some very strong blues and funk artists, but jazz performers include the Tough Love Trio, and a pairing of tenor players Mike Tucker and Gordon Beadle.

We don’t yet know the vintages of either the musicians or the wines, but the Newton Jazz and Wine Festival is definitely returning this year.

Up in Lowell, the Merrimack Valley Jazz Festival has yet to post its lineup and schedule (watch this space).

What we know at the moment about this year’s Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival is that drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is again the Artistic Director, and that the free outdoor performances will take place on Saturday, as usual. We’ll post further details as they emerge.

All in all, New England offers a very full festival season. So, get out your calendars and start planning!


2013 Festival Chronology


Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
Friday, May 31 – Sunday, June 9
Burlington, VT


Cambridge River Festival
Saturday, June 1
Cambridge, MA


New Bedford JazzFest
Saturday, June 15
New Bedford, MA


International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Saturday, June 15 – Saturday, June 29
New Haven, CT


New Hampshire Bass Fest
Wednesday, June 19 – Saturday, June 22
Manchester, NH


Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA
Friday, June 21 – Sunday, June 23
North Adams, MA


Paulie’s NOLA Blues and Jazz Festival
Friday, June 21 – Sunday, June 23
Worcester, MA


Hot Steamed Jazz Festival
Friday, June 21 – Sunday, June 23
Essex, CT


Joe’s Jazz and Blues Fest
Saturday, June 22
Somerville, MA


Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at Mass MOCA
Sunday, July 14 – Sunday, August 4
North Adams, MA


Somerville ArtBeat
Friday, July 19 – Saturday, July 20
Somerville, MA


Festival Betances
Friday, July 19 – Sunday, July 21
Boston, MA


Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz
Friday, July 19 – Sunday, July 21
Hartford, CT


Green River Festival
Saturday, July 20 – Sunday, July 21
Greenfield, MA


Lincoln Arts Festival Jazz Weekend
Saturday, July 20 – Sunday, July 21
Boothbay Harbor, ME


[Onset Beach Jazz Festival]
Dates TBA
Onset, MA
Highlights: Date, lineup and schedule TBA


Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend
Friday, July 26 – Saturday, July 27
Lee, MA


Summer Arts Weekend
Friday, July 26 – Sunday, July 28
Boston, MA


Deer Isle Jazz Festival
Thursday, August 1 – Sunday, August 4
Stonington, ME


Newport Jazz Festival
Friday, August 2 – Sunday, August 4
Newport, RI


Litchfield Jazz Festival
Friday, August 9 – Sunday, August 11
Goshen, CT


New Haven Jazz Festival
Monday, August 12 – Sunday, August 18
New Haven, CT


Rockport Jazz Festival
Wednesday, August 14 – Sunday, August 18
Rockport, MA


Bar Harbor Jazz Festival
Thursday, August 15 – Sunday, August 18
Bar Harbor, ME


Salem Jazz and Soul Festival
Saturday, August 17 – Sunday, August 18
Salem, MA


Provincetown Jazz Festival
Saturday, August 17, and Monday, August 19
Provincetown, MA


Northampton Jazz Festival
Saturday, September 7
Northampton, MA


Newton Jazz and Wine Festival
Saturday, September 21
Newton, MA


Merrimack Valley Jazz Festival
Saturday, September 21
Lowell, MA


Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival
Saturday, September 28
Boston, MA


JazzFest Falmouth
Friday, October 4 – Sunday, October 6
Falmouth, MA


Pittsfield CityJazz Festival
Wednesday, October 9 – Sunday, October 20
Pittsfield, MA


Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival
Saturday, October 12
Holyoke, MA

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