Arts & Entertainment

Montclair Jazz Festival Prepares for Largest Turnout


MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Jazz Festival is gearing up to receive the largest turnout ever. On Saturday, Aug. 15 from noon to 9 p.m., jazz lovers will converge on Nishuane Park in Montclair to listen to the smooth sounds of jazz.

The free, family-friendly jazz festival will be hosted by actor S. Epatha Merkerson along with WBGO’s Gary Walker.

Headliners include José James, Paquito D’Rivera Quintet, the Christian McBride Big Band with Melissa Walker, Radam Schwartz + Organized, and the Jazz House Faculty Collective. More than 160 students from Jazz House Kids will perform during the event. 

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D'Rivera, the winner of 13 Grammy Awards, is recognized both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. Born in Havana, Cuba, he performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music and, at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. He has gone on to record more than 30 solo albums, obtain a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall for his contributions to Latin music and author two books.

James is best known for performing and blending modern jazz and hip-hop as a vocalist. Often referred to as a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation, the New York City-based vocalist combines jazz, soul, drum'n'bass, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. 

James attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. In 2008, he debuted with his first album, The Dreamer, on the Brownswood label and went on to produce several albums since. His 2010 album For All We Know became the winner of both the Edison Award and L'Académie du Jazz Grand Prix for best Vocal Jazz Album of 2010.

Schwartz has built his reputation over the last 25 years playing with such great musicians as Arthur and Red Prysock, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Al Hibler, and Jimmy Ford. He continues to make music history today playing with renowned artists Cecil Brooks III, Russell Malone and David Fathead Newman. 

Schwartz' career has led to many successful recordings. His own Organized was mentioned in the B3 Bible as one of the essential organ records of all time. He also has been featured on Cecil Brooks III and the CBIII band, For Those Who Love to GrooveOur Day Will Come with the Tommy Gryce Trio; The Lenny Roberts Quartet, Keepin' it on the D.L.; Jazz at Crossroads; and Russell Gunn's Mood Swings. One of his most recent endeavors include the debut recording of the Brooklyn Soul Organization, featuring Schwartz on organ.

Four-time GRAMMY-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride will be performing along with his Big Band and wife, vocalist Walker. The Philadelphia native moved to New York in 1989 to pursue classical studies at the Juilliard School where he was recruited to the road by saxophonist Bobby Watson. 

A respected educator and advocate, McBride currently 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, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country. He also serves as Artistic Advisor for Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and Artistic Director for Jazz House Kids, the nationally recognized community arts organization founded by Walker.  

During the Montclair Jazz Festival, the talents of Jazz House Kids faculty and students will be showcased. Dedicated to educating children through jazz, the “Jazz House” concept brings internationally renowned jazz performers to teach alongside a professional staff, offering students a wide range of creative programming.

Activities of the day include the Macy’s Family Jazz Discovery Zone where musicians read from their favorite jazz storybook and jazz art projects, a beer tent, food and dry good vendors. 

The nine-hour event has been produced by Jazz House Kids with presenting sponsor the Bravitas Group/Silver Family Foundation.

For those unable to attend, the nine-hour event will also be LIVESTREAMED ON


TAP into Montclair is a proud media sponsor of the 2015 Montclair Jazz Festival.

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