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Montclair Jazz Festival Lineup Announced for August 15


MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Jazz Festival produced by Jazz House Kids will kick off nine hours of world-class jazz on Saturday, August 15th in Nishuane Park.

Artistic director Christian McBride and Mistress of Ceremonies, actor S. Epatha Merkerson will lead the stage action for the sixth annual Montclair Jazz Festival featuring headliners such as vocalist José James, the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet, and the Christian McBride Big Band featuring Melissa Walker.

The world-class artists will perform on the same stage with more than 150 multi-generational performers including festival favorites Radam Schwartz Organized, the Jazz House Faculty Collective directed by Ed Palermo and Jazz House Kids award-winning student ensembles and vocal groups.

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For the first time, the festival will be streamed live to display the unique array of musicians together under Jazz House Kids' far-reaching mission to bring America's original musical art form to the community and use jazz as a teaching tool to mentor and apprentice young, emerging artists.

Leading up to Montclair Jazz Festival, special activities are planned throughout the summer that involve all quadrants of the town.  A sponsor kick-off mixer hosted by The Bravitas Group and Silver Family Foundation is planned for mid-July.  In early August, the Montclair Jazz Festival will launch its Mid-day Summer Concert Series, curated by festival artistic director Christian McBride and featuring special jazz guests alongside the Jazz House Kids' acclaimed faculty.  The special guest artists will also conduct master classes for more than 160 students at the Jazz House Summer Workshop, Jazz House Kids' nationally recognized summer program.  Held at Montclair State University's outdoor amphitheater, the afternoon concerts are open to the public with No Tickets Required.

The festival weekend officially begins with the North Coast Brew Master Festival Kickoff on August 13th at Montclair's Pig & Prince Restaurant, a dinner and an intimate sampling of highly-rated ales.  These events, as well as a post-Festival jam session party are also planned.

The Montclair Jazz Festival is a fun-filled day with entertainment 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., which donates 100% of the proceeds to Jazz House Kids.


The distinctive and colorful jazz icon portraits by artist Andres Chaparroonce again provide the face and overall texture of the Montclair Jazz Festival.  This year's featured artwork is Chaparro's interpretive portrait of American bebop trumpeter Lee Morgan. Richard Conde, acclaimed photographer whose work has been showcased in National Geographic, New York Times and numerous jazz publications, and official photographer for the Montclair, Newport, Exit 0 and Jazz Mobile Jazz Festivals, will also have work on display and for sale at the Montclair Jazz Festival.

The Montclair Jazz Festival is the brainchild of jazz vocalist and recording artist Melissa Walker, with creative direction from her husband, Christian McBride. Walker is 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.

"We are thrilled that the Montclair Jazz Festival has metamorphosed into much more than one great music day in the park," said Walker.  "The Montclair Jazz Festival in the summer has become part of the fabric of our community, solidifying this town's standing as a thriving arts and cultural destination all year round.  We are thrilled that our festival's expanded footprint continues to grow, bringing jazz to all quadrants of Montclair's business and arts districts."

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", for which she won three NAACP Image Awards, is back as the Montclair Jazz Festival's Mistress of Ceremonies.  WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM's on-air host Gary Walker will serve as the stage host, providing an "inside scoop" on the many talented performers.

Artistic director Christian McBride is a four-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist, composer and arranger.  He has been one of the most important and omnipresent figures in the jazz world for more than 25 years.  McBride fuses the fire and fury of a virtuoso with the depth of grounding of a seasoned journeyman.  In addition to traveling the world with his critically-acclaimed Inside Straight quintet, the Christian McBride Big Band and as a sideman, McBride hosts and produces "The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian" on SiriusXM satellite radio, and National Public Radio's "Jazz Night in America," a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center that showcases outstanding live jazz from across the country.  McBride is the recently announced winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting in 2014.  He also serves as Artistic Chair for Jazz House Kids.

This year, McBride welcomes Montclair Jazz Festival headliner and vocal sensation José James, best known for performing and blending modern jazz and hip-hop.  His breakout album from Blue Note, No Beginning No End, was released to critical acclaim in 2011.  NPR Music raved that James "skirts categories with ease, fitting in with current R&B innovators like Frank Ocean or Miguel, yet maintaining a strong awareness of lineage that stretches from Ray Charles to Marvin Gaye to Lou Rawls to Maxwell."  His new album, Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday, is a tribute to the legendary singer in honor of her 100th birthday.

Also starring on this year's festival lineup is 14-time GRAMMY Award-winning saxophone and clarinet legend Paquito D'Rivera and his Paquito D'Rivera Quintet.  Born in Havana, Cuba, D'Rivera is celebrated across the globe for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer.  His numerous recordings include more than 30 solo albums.  D'Rivera will read children's stories at the Family Jazz Discovery Zone in his native tongue, Spanish.

The Christian McBride Big Band with Melissa Walker won the GRAMMY for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album for its 2012 release, The Good Feeling.  The 17-piece, 21st century big band features a very modern sound.  Vocalist Melissa Walker adds her deep sultry singing and colorful charts to the mix.

Master Hammond B3 organist and jazz pianist, Radam Schwartz heads upRadam Schwartz Organized.  Schwartz's 1995 recording by the same name from Muse Records is cited in the B3 Bible as one of the essential organ records of all time. Schwartz is dedicated to maintaining the strong live traditions of jazz, and bridging the gap between the generations.

Also performing is The Jazz House Faculty Collective, directed by Ed Palermo. The group is comprised of nationally and internationally recognized jazz artists who serve as faculty members for the Jazz House Summer Workshop.

The future of jazz will be showcased as more than 150 students from the Jazz House Summer Workshop perform throughout the day.

This year, Jazz House Kids is proud to announce The Bravitas Group and Silver Family Foundation as the Festival's new title sponsor.  And, for the first time, the Montclair Jazz Festival will be streamed live so that music lovers around the globe don't miss out on this grand event. Lead support has also been given from North Coast Brewing Co.,Arctic Glacier, and TD Bank. The festival is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism. Festival partners include the County of Essex, Montclair Township, the Montclair Public Library, and Montclair Art Museum, with media sponsors WBGO 88.3 FM,WNYC New York Public Radio, Jazz TimesThe Montclair Times, Baristanet and TapIntoMontclair.

Jazz fans are invited to bring friends and family, lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets. In ad dition to the North Coast Beer Garden and Family Jazz Discovery Zone, food and artisan craft vendors are part of the offerings in the historic, 17-acre park. Directions

The free, expanded Montclair Jazz Festival Shuttle, will stop at key parking points throughout town.  To volunteer, become a vendor, or for more information, visit and the Montclair Jazz Festival Facebook page, email Jazz House Kids or call 973-744-2273.  For information about Jazz House Kids, visit


About Jazz House Kids

Jazz House Kids helps students gain an "artistic edge" through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship. By offering pre-professional, year-round musical training along with community engagement and education programs for young people from all backgrounds, we use jazz as an effective teaching tool to enhance academic achievement, dedication and teamwork, and cultivatetomorrow's global citizens. JazzTimes calls Jazz House Kids, "one of the most successful and respected jazz education programs in the country."  Since 2002, more than 45,000 students have participated in Jazz House Kids music education programs in the schools, at the Jazz House and in the community. In 2014, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts honored Jazz House Kids with a Citation of Excellence.  Each year Jazz House Kids reaches 25,000 people with events, performances and programming.

About The Bravitas Group

The Bravitas Group, Inc. is a Montclair, NJ based firm founded in 2006 with the goal of having a positive impact on the local community. The company realizes this vision mainly through real estate and other entrepreneurial projects and philanthropy. More specifically, Bravitas creates green, architecturally interesting spaces through the adaptive reuse of existing, outmoded structures. Many of the buildings are constructed, designed and maintained using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program. Bravitas' buildings are environmentally responsible while simultaneously meeting the demand for unique professional space. Their newest project is Vault491, located in the heart Montclair's award winning downtown at 491 Bloomfield Avenue, will be an innovative adaptive reuse of a historic 92 year old bank building. Bravitas also invests in emerging private companies that provide technological services or meet the needs of underserved populations. For example, since 2008, Bravitas has been a co-founder of and key investor in, a website created to serve elderly adults and their caregivers with in-depth information and a user-friendly e-commerce store offering thousands of products and supplies that allow people to age more comfortably at home. For more information,


About the Silver Family Foundation

The Silver Family Foundation was established in 2005 to advance the Silver family's philanthropic vision. Its mission is to support nonprofit organizations dedicated to: helping children and families, particularly those who are needy and underserved, or touched by life-threatening illness; cancer research and related social services; and mental health issues, particularly as they affect young adults.


About North Coast Brewing Co.

A pioneer in the craft beer movement, North Coast Brewing Company opened in 1988 as a local brewpub in the historic town of Fort Bragg, located on California's Mendocino Coast. Under the leadership of Brewmaster Mark Ruedrich, the brewery has developed a strong reputation for quality, having won more than 70 awards in national and international competitions.


About Arctic Glacier

Arctic Glacier is the leading producer, marketer and distributor of packaged ice, with a strong and loyal customer base across Canada and the United States. Arctic Glacier operates a network of 88 production plants and distribution facilities that provide ice to over 75,000 retail locations. The company also sells other products such as bottled water, dry ice, packaged wood and rock salt, and sells and leases ice-making and dispensing equipment in certain markets.


About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at approximately 1,300 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, Find TD Bank on Facebook on Twitter at


About Montclair, New Jersey

The Town of Montclair is celebrated as one of the jazz capitals of New Jersey, with dozens of accomplished musicians and several jazz clubs making the surrounding community home.  For more than a decade, the popular Montclair Blues & Jazz Festival brought top talent to the region.  Jazz House Kids continues the tradition by bringing music to the community free of charge through its Montclair Jazz Festival.


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