WESTFIELD, NJ — The 20th Annual Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, taking place Tuesday nights in July and August from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., will kick off on July 5 with free outdoor concerts by five bands at locations throughout Downtown Westfield. (Rain date July 6.)

The festival is sponsored by the Downtown Westfield Corporation.

Your complete guide to week one bands:

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East Broad Street and North Avenue: Eric Mintel Quartet. Composer and leader Mintel often incorporates motifs from famous jazz musicians such as Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington. Audiences can also look forward to players performing an improvisation unique to each performance.  The quartet, commended by jazz legend Brubeck for its refreshing contemporary jazz and attraction among young audiences, has been featured on NPR and performed at the White House.

Elm Street (in front of the Baptist Church): Richard Reiter Swing Band. With Emmy-award winning composer Richard Reiter’s Reiter on saxophone, flute or clarinet and vocalist Tricia Slafta, the two-person band is known to play a variety of music including swing, classic rock, waltz and Irish jig.

Central Avenue (in front of Banana Republic): Radam Schwartz. Known for his smooth jazz piano and organ music, Schwartz impresses his audiences with his “smoldering” chords and soulful solos. According to the Star Ledger, Schwartz also plays some of his original compositions, which “extend the soul jazz tradition without breaking it.”

North Avenue West and Elm Street: Chuck Lambert Band. The blues band features James Keenan on the bass guitar, Jay “Boxcar” Battle on drums, Tony Tota on piano and Eric Salkin on saxophone, while Lambert leads the group with vocals and guitar. The band focuses on expanding the scope of blues by juxtaposing traditional with modern electric blues. They have been highly praised for multi-dimensional sounds and creative incorporation of several major music forms into traditional blues.

Foundation Park (South Avenue West and Westfield Avenue): Charlie Apicella & Iron City. Westfield’s newest pocket park will be filled with the sounds of jazz guitar and blues. With several original songs, accomplished guitarist Charlie Apicella and his band explore a wide range of the blues and even incorporate elements of swing. 

Learn more about the festival and other downtown happenings at WestfieldToday.com.

The Downtown Westfield Corporation is an advertiser on TAP into Westfield. To learn about becoming an advertiser, email jlieberman@tapinto.net or call 917-676-2302.

Soo Min Chung is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.

Additional reporting by Jackie Lieberman.