Arts & Entertainment

Downtown Westfield’s Summer Jazz Fest Starts Tuesday

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Eric Mintel will help kick off Downtown Westfield’s summer-long Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival July 4. Credits: Cheri Rogowsky/Cheri’s Classic Candids
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Westfield, NJ – The 19th Annual Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Downtown Westfield Corporation, kicks off Tuesday, July 7, at 7:00 p.m. This year, there will be more choices some jazz nights than ever before, with a fifth band added on the South Avenue side of town during the month of July.

“With a shorter calendar of Tuesdays in July and August this year, we can still hire 36 different bands this season,” said Sherry Cronin, executive director of the DWC. They’ll also use the fifth band as a pilot to gauge interest in events on that side of town.

Bands will play simultaneously each jazz night at Central Avenue in front of Turning Point Restaurant, the lawn in front of the North Ave. Train Station, the corner of East Broad Street and North Ave. and Elm Street in front of the First Baptist Church. During July, the fifth band will play at South Ave West and Westfield Avenue in front of the Gallery U Boutique.

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“All age groups like the Sweet Sounds,” said Cronin. “We tend to put the more serious jazz bands on Central Ave. and the First Baptist Church lawn, since people can sit there with chairs provided and stay a while. Couples, senior citizens, teens, families with children – we have every demographic here during jazz.”

Look for new bands among returning favorites this summer.

“There are some favored bands that have been part of the lineup for many of the 19 years,” said Cronin. "However, we try to switch it up every year to provide an opportunity for fresh talent, since we have about 80 bands which apply for the 36 slots. Sometimes we have to turn away very good talent as a result. Other times, the committee has to give a year off to favorites so that we can keep it fresh. This year we have six new bands that have never played before."

Kicking off the festival on July 7 are Cynthia Holiday, Eric Mintel Quartet, Richard Reiter Swing Band, Almonte and Gus Bardaji Group. On July 14, catch Glenn Alexander with New York Horns and Oria Aspen, Jason Green & the Labor of Love, Lynette Washington, The Gold Magnolias and Pat Cuttitta. On July 21, hear Radam Schwartz, Daniel Ori, La Balteuband, Roxy Perry and Gordon James. July 28 will spotlight Lauren Shub & The Trio, String Bean & The Stalkers, Claudio Roditi Quintet, Don Braden/Karl Latham Big Fun(k) and Dave Leonhardt Trio. Aug. 4 showcases Mike Kaplan Nonet, No Name James & Butterball, Marlene VerPlanck and The Joe Taino Group. On Aug. 11 hear New-Trad Sextet, The Murphtet, David Aaron Quintet and B.D. Lenz. Aug. 18 will feature Abelita Mateus, Mauricio de Soussa & Bossa Brasil, Carrie Jackson and VooDUDES. The festival ends Aug. 25 with performances by Jazz Lobsters, Ehoff/Gano/Knapp, Ali Ryerson and Watson.  

Music lovers are encouraged to take advantage of all that Downtown Westfield has to offer during jazz nights.

“Traditionally, people come and meet others for dinner or just to stroll around from location to location and listen to jazz,” said Cronin. “They may dine at a sidewalk café, stroll around in the shops and stores, have ice cream or yogurt, dessert or coffee. Some retailers report stronger sales before the jazz starts at 7 p.m."

For more information and a complete performance schedule, visit WestfieldToday.com.

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