Fuse Preview: Jazz Festivals in New England Close Out June

With summer having already arrived thermally and due to arrive astronomically early next week, New England offers a geographically diverse menu of jazz festivals to wrap up the month.

By J. R. Carroll

Django Reinhardt’s Quintet of the Hot Club of France continues to inspire acoustic ensembles, whose members flock to the singular Django in June to study during the day, while evenings are given over to world-class performers of jazz manouche. On Friday, June 17, Les Violons de Bruxelles invert the instrumentation of the original Quintet (lead guitar, violin, two rhythm guitars, and bass) for a new twist on that classical ensemble, with three violinists backed by a rhythm guitar and bass. The following evening features a first-time meeting of two guitarists representing France’s new generation, Sébastien Giniaux and Antoine Boyer. Both concerts take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of Music in downtown Northampton, MA.

Lo(w) and behold! New Hampshire Bass Fest is in full swing in Manchester, NH. Like Django in June, it tops off daytime workshops with evening concerts at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18, providing an opportunity to hear what happens when bassists from different genres cross paths. Admission to the evening events is free, and the list of participants this year includes bassists Jim and Grant Stinnett, Rob Gourlay, and Shane Allessio, along with drummer Dom Moio.

PIanist Justin Kauflin

Pianist Justin Kauflin. Photo courtesy of Prince Williams/ATL.

Out in Lee, MA, the Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend provides another incentive to spend time in these bucolic surroundings. Trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg, another new-generation hot jazz devotee, is the featured artist on Friday, June 17. Saturday evening provides a welcome opportunity to hear the gifted young pianist Justin Kauflin, whom some of you may remember from the documentary about his mentor, the late trumpeter Clark Terry, Keep On Keepin’ On. Both events are at 8 p.m. on the mainstage of the Lee Meeting House at the Lee Congregational Church.

The “Joe” in Joe’s Jazz and Blues Fest is Somerville’s mayor, Joe Curtatone, whose interest in jazz dates back to his days as a trumpeter in the high school band. On Saturday, June 18, from noon to 6 p.m., the free event returns to Powderhouse Park (near the Tufts rotary) with a lineup including the Somerville High School Street Holler Serenade, Danielle M and The Glory Junkies, trombonist Dan Fox’s Foxtet, pianist Alexei Tsiganov and his group, bluesman Barrett Anderson, and vibraphonist Brian O’Neill and the quintet version of Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica.

Meanwhile, down in New Haven, CT, the wide-ranging International Festival of Arts and Ideas continues through Saturday, June 25. Starting at 5:30 p.m. on the evening of Saturday, June 18, the First Niagara Stage on New Haven Green features a lineup of the Afro-Semitic Experience, followed by a double bill of M.A.K.U SoundSystem and the People’s Champs.

On Sunday afternoon, June 19, at 1 and 3:15 p.m. at University Theatre, you’ll have two chances to catch a remarkable collaboration, “Off the Charts,” between the Bang on a Can All-Stars and three outstanding Polish jazz ensembles, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, the Obara International Quartet, and the Piotr Damasiewicz Quintet.

Back outdoors on Sunday evening, at the First Niagara Stage, bhangra-inspired Red Baraat heats things up at 7 p.m.

And on Tuesday, June 21, at 11:30 a.m. on the First Niagara, you can hear Connecticut-bred, Brooklyn-based guitarist Sean Clapis and his group.

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