Now in its 13th year, the Montclair Jazz Festival has become one of the most vibrant musical gatherings in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, thanks in large part to the addition of a flagship event, the Downtown Jamboree. .
Last year, the Jamboree brought together about 25,000 people on a half-mile stretch of Bloomfield Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare. “Mounting this size and scale of a festival in a pandemic, after weeks of Ida rain and flooding, seemed impossible,” Melissa Walker, founder and president of Jazz House Kids, told NorthJersey.com at the aftermath of the historic event. “Even that day, it seemed impossible. But it exceeded all expectations, all dreams. It was a glorious day, beyond our wildest imaginations.”
The 2022 Downtown Jamboree, to be held on Saturday September 10, promises to meet or exceed this new standard, with two headlining stages and two street stages running all day. As before, admission will be free, with a suggested donation of $10. Beach and garden chairs are welcome, while tents and umbrellas are prohibited.
Jazz House Kids bassist, composer and artistic director Christian McBride – who also happens to be the host of Jazz Night in America – will return to the festival with an all-star special band. Veteran tenor saxophonist Houston Person, prominent young alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and keyboard prodigy Matthew Whitaker also feature. Singer Danielle Ponder will deliver a dose of modern soul, while Rachel Z and Omar Hakim will bring a burst of funk and fusion. Three cooperatives complete the line-up: Artemis, The Cookers and the festival’s Jazz House Collective.
The festival also announced an after-party, with DJ Logic, at the Wellmont, from 9 p.m. to midnight.
For those who can’t wait until September to get their fix of Montclair Jazz, take note: the festival’s Soundcheck series, organized by Montclair Center BID, has two upcoming dates. The first, on July 13, will feature Craig Harris and 2nd Line Smith, as well as Birsa Chatterjee, a saxophonist and singer who came to Jazz House Kids as a student and now serves as the education program coordinator. And on July 27organist Akiko Tsuruga will headline, following an opening set by trumpeter Wallace Roney, Jr.
A separate event, the Lackawanna Block Party, is planned for August 13with DJ Brother Mister (aka Mr. McBride), the Nicole Glover Quartet and Winard Harper with Jeli Posse.
For more information on the Montclair Jazz Festival, visit montclairjazzfestival.org.