SOMERVILLE, NJ - The show must go as the saying goes, and it will, with a tip of the hat to determination, technology and cyberspace.
Forced to respond to the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, the venerable Central Jersey Jazz Festival, a mainstay of the arts and entertainment landscape for 11 years, will be live-streamed this year on Sunday, Sept. 13, from 1-5 p.m.
The link can be found online at YouTube, Facebook or www.centraljerseyjazzfest.com. The concert is free.
This year's line-up of performers includes the Alexis Morrast Quartet, 1-2:10 p.m., the Matthew Whitaker Quartet, 2:35-3:35 p.m. and the Mark Gross Quartet, 3:50-5 p.m.
Rather than shut down and wait until next year, the sponsors in each of the three venues where the 3-day music festival is held - Flemington, New Brunswick and Somerville - chose to reconfigure the live format and turned to live streaming as an alternative, according to Rick St. Pierre, proprietor of Verve Restaurant, Bar & Bistro, who conceived and continues to produce the Sunday event in Somerville, which began as the Somerville Jazz Fest in
St. Pierre turned to WGBO-FM host Sheila Anderson several years for her assistance, and more recently, the Downtown Somerville Alliance and Natalie Pineiro, executive director.
It has since expanded to New Brunswick on Saturday night and more recently Flemington on Friday night.
The following profiles were provided by the Central Jersey Jazz Festival promoters:
The Alexis Morrast Quartet
"Hot House Jazz Guide said "Seldom do listeners have the opportunity to hear young artist who contain the depth of Alexis Morrast. The singer and composer captivates audiences with her warmth. Often dealing in sophisticated restraint, Alexis' seeming innate command of phrasing reflects what many musicians spend whole lives striving to master. Every note matters, and every lyric resonates." She's the 2017 recipient of Hot House Jazz Guide‘s Best Up and Coming Young Artist award, and winner of Showtime at the Apollo.
"The 18-year-old, who now attends Berklee University of Boston, Massachusetts has graced iconic bandstands from the Kennedy Center to Lincoln Center, traveling from Africa to Austria, recently performing in Times Square and has just returned from touring with Wynton Marsalis and JLCO Band Holidays; shows no sign of slowing down!"
The Matthew Whitaker Quartet
"Super-talented pianist/organist Matthew Whitaker joyfully mixes old-school jazz with new school sounds.
Born in 2001, Matthew Whitaker's love for playing music began at age 3, after his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard. He taught himself to play the Hammond B3 organ at 9 years old and at 13 became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond USA, in its 84-year history. At 15 years old Matthew became a Yamaha Artist, becoming the youngest musician to join this stellar group of jazz pianists.
He's toured both in the US and abroad, performing on prestigious stages around the country including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo Theater and The Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts and at international venues in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, the UK, Indonesia, Japan and Morocco, to name a few. Matthew recently opened for Gregory Porter's "All Rise" tour in Germany.
Matthew's television appearances include FOX TV's Showtime at the Apollo, the Today Show, the Harry Connick Jr. Show and on the nationally syndicated Ellen DeGeneres Show. He has appeared with Jon Batiste's Stay Human band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and was recently the subject of a CBS 60 Minutes feature segment.
In 2017 he was named to Crain's New York Business' breakout list of "20 under 20." In 2018 Matthew was named 1 of 7 rising stars by USA Today's "201" Magazine and in 2019 and 2020, Matthew has been awarded the ASCAP Foundation's "Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award."
Matthew's 2nd recording, NOW HEAR THIS made its debut in August 2019."
The Mark Gross Quartet
"Gross is a new and powerful alto sax player who is a Cannonball type player..." Takao Ogawa Swing Journal, Japan.
Gross's consistently professional musicianship has led to live and recorded efforts with many of his fellow pacesetters in jazz music. Mark has toured the world with the Mark Gross Quartet, Buster Williams, Delfeayo Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, Philip Harper, Nat Adderley, Dave Holland, Mulgrew Miller, Nicholas Payton, Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Charles Mingus Big Band, Freddie Hubbard, Captain Jack McDuff, Cyrus Chestnut, Regina Carter, Lionel Hampton, Stephon Harris, among many others. Mark credits his prolific sound to the rich appreciation for Gospel music that resounded through his parent's Baltimore home. Gross has performed on Broadway including:'FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE', 'KAT AND THE KINGS' and 'SWING' and most recently IN AIN'T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS. Mark has also appeared in Spike Lee's film 'Malcolm X', was also a featured musician featured 'Boardwalk Empire' (2013).
Mark credits his prolific sound to the rich appreciation for Gospel music that resounded through his parent's Baltimore home. Mark's father was the Pastor of his hometown church Mt. Zion C.O.G.I.C. up until his passing February 1, 2007. After developing his interests in classical music at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Mark studied four years at Berklee College of Music and got his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance. Two of Berklee's best professors, Joe Viola and Bill Pierce, help fine tune Mark's musicianship. Upon his graduation in 1988, Mark Gross began his professional musical caravan in JAZZ."
The Flemington Festival is produced and hosted by Flemington Community Partnership and Sheila E. Anderson.
The New Brunswick Festival is produced and hosted by The New Brunswick Jazz Project
The Somerville Festival is produced and hosted by Downtown Somerville Alliance, Arts On Division and Sheila E. Anderson
The festival is sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Somerset in Somerville and RWJUH New Brunswick with additional support from several partners
The Central Jersey Jazz Fesitval is a TAPinto marketing partner