Arts & Entertainment

Montclair Jazz Festival: Exclusive Interview with Radam Schwartz


MONTCLAIR, NJ - Get ready for the Montclair Jazz Festival. Saturday, August 15 from noon to 9 PM, Nishuane Park will host some of the highest caliber jazz performers in the nation. One such performer is Radam Schwartz.

Mentioned for the fourth time in the Downbeat Critics Poll, teacher and long time musician, Schwartz has played for with great musicians such as Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, Al Hibler, Jimmy Ford and many more.

For 11 years Schwartz played at the Peppermint Lounge in East Orange and is now at the Crossroads in Garwood, NJ.  Currently Schwartz is a faculty member at Jazz House Kids (which this year had 157 students) and he has taught there for the last seven years.

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Schwartz said, "The festival is partly the culmination of the Jazz House Kids Camp that started on Aug 3."

He explained that previous to jazz house kids there was a camp called jazz connections. At the end of the camp there was an outdoor concert with faculty and students. This tradition began what is currently a lineup that includes Philly Soul Big Band,  52nd St. Big Band, Afro Latin Jazz Big Band, Jazz House Vocal Large Ensemble, the Big Solid Sax Mob, Radam Schwartz, Jazz House faculty, José James, Dynasty Big Band, Jazz House Big Band, Paquito D'Rivera quintet, Christian McBride and Melissa walker.

Schwartz, who is bringing an organ to the concert, said, "I am excited to be a headliner at the festival. I am bringing an organ group, though I also play piano".

When asked if he studied organ Schwartz laughed, saying he didn't know what a jazz player from the 50's would feel about going to college for jazz since back then, in places like Rutgers, if you practiced jazz in the practice room you would be asked to leave. He said he had mentors, "which is the way jazz was disseminated - person to person."

Schwartz said playing in the Montclair Jazz Festival was gratifying, "I live in Bloomfield near the Newark border, and I came up playing on the Newark jazz scene, and Montclair was a part of that scene, so to play a jazz festival so close to my home and training ground is gratifying."

If you are looking to see Schwartz playing with a terrific lineup that includes Mike Lee on tenor, Josh Evans on trumpet, Vince Ector on drums, Charlie Sigler on guitar and Dylan Pramuk on vocals, feel free to come to Nishuane Park this Saturday all day, all free, all jazz. Schwartz plays at 2:30 pm.

For a complete lineup and parking information, visit

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