MONTCLAIR, NJ - The weather forecast for Saturday in Montclair is 82 degrees and sunny according to a post on the Montclair Jazz Festival page. A perfect day for a Jazz concert in Nishuane Park, some may say. Thousands of people will gather today with their lawn chairs in tow over to Nishuane Park in Montclair for the 5th annual Montclair Jazz Festival.
The free 8 hour festival will begin at 12noon and will have a line-up of Jazz artists from near and far. Parking is limited, therefore, attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the free shuttle service provided. Shuttles will run every twenty minutes from the following three locations: Orange Rd. Parking Deck located at 41 Orange Rd.; Hillside Square located at 8 Hillside Avenue; Hillside School located at 54 Orange Rd.
The Montclair Jazz Festival was founded by jazz vocalist and recording artist Melissa Walker, with creative direction from her husband, Christian McBride. Walker serves as the president and founder of Jazz House Kids, a Montclair-based nonprofit that has gained a reputation as one of the nation’s preeminent arts education and performance organizations.
"This year, we celebrate five years of bringing vibrant jazz and culture to music lovers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and beyond,” says Walker. “We are thrilled that our festival continues to grow, as this year we expect more than 5,000 fans to join us for a day of great music, food and fun.”
Artist-in-Residence Christian McBride is a Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer and arranger in the jazz world for more than 20 years. He also serves as Artistic Chair for Jazz House Kids.
Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for her 17-season run as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on NBC's "Law and Order," is the Mistress of Ceremonies.
New to the line up this year, but certainly no stranger to jazz, master improviser John Scofield, whose guitar work has influenced jazz since the late 70’s will be performing. Best known for his groundbreaking work with Miles Davis, Scofield is a legendary jazz musician who performs in a wide array of styles, including post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B. Scofield will be one of the many artists at the festival reading jazz-related children’s stories at the Family Jazz Discovery Zone.
Also starring on this year’s festival lineup is the incomparable, Chuchito Valdés with “Mambo Revolution – Bebo, Cachao And Me." Valdés, who follows in the footsteps of his famed father Chucho Valdés and grandfather Bebo Valdés, continues the great piano tradition that was born in Cuba and now is celebrated worldwide. With influences of Caribbean rhythms and jazz, he creates an exciting and energetic blend of dance music that brings audiences to their feet. Valdés will read children’s stories at the Jazz Discovery Zone in his native tongue, Spanish.
Lovers of standards will be musically delighted as Melissa Walker sings in tribute to legendary jazz vocalists Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln. Both women were trailblazers who made immense contributions to the jazz art form. Jazz House Kids faculty member Bruce Williams also will lend his melodic talents to the festival. This powerful jazz saxophonist is one of the premier alto and soprano saxophonists today. Also performing is The Jazz House Faculty Collective, musically directed by Julius Tolentino, the group is comprised of nationally and internationally recognized jazz artists who also serve as faculty members for the Jazz House Summer Workshop.
Entertainment and activities will be provided for the entire family. Returning to the festival is the Family Jazz Discovery Zone, a collaboration among Jazz House Kids and partners Montclair Public Library and Montclair Art Museum, which will feature healthy snacks, music-related story books read by festival musicians, and a host of other kid-friendly art activities for wee-boppers and their parents. Also returning to the festival is the popular Beer Garden, sponsored by North Coast Brewing Co.