WESTFIELD, NJ — July 9 was the second jazz night of the 17th Annual Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival in Westfield, a series of free live performances taking place downtown each Tuesday night in July and August from 7 to 9 p.m.
Among the performers that night was the Gordon James Band, regulars of the festival for nearly 10 years, who treated the ever-growing crowd of all ages to renditions of songs made famous by Duke Ellington, Sting and others.
“I started this band in about 1994 and I’ve been playing festivals like these, restaurants, senior centers, which I love doing since they love the music so much,” Gordon James told The Alternative Press of Westfield. “I also do lecture performance programs on the history of jazz and similar things. I’m a busy guy.”
For this performance, James said he wanted to get a lot of variety into the set, “so we played some R&B, some classics like ‘Do You Feel Like Making Love Tonight,’ some Duke Ellington, and we ended the set with Sting’s ‘Fragile.’ We wanted to mix it up a bit, especially since we saw a pretty mixed crowd of young and old people. So we really just winged it,” he laughed.
A fast-moving rainstorm ended the evening’s performances early, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Four free performances take place each jazz night at various locations: Central Avenue in front of Turning Point Restaurant, the lawn in front of the North Avenue Train Station, the plaza at the corner of East Broad and Prospect Street and in front of the First Baptist Church on Elm Street. Raindates are Wednesdays.
For a complete list of scheduled performances and locations, click here.