Northampton’s Fifth Annual Jazz Festival Set for Sept. 8-12

NORTHAMPTON – The 2015 Northampton Jazz Festival will begin Tuesday, Sept. 8 with a special performance at the Northampton Jazz Workshop and various other performances during that week, culminating with the main-stage, all-day event on Saturday, Sept. 12.

The main concert event will take place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in downtown Northampton on Hampton Avenue, behind Thornes Marketplace.

At Saturday’s signature performance event, which is free and open to the public, featured performers will include: the Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke Duo, the Zaccai Curtis Latin Jazz Quartet featuring Ray Vega, the Edmar Casteneda Trio,  Pete McGuinness, the Jeff Holmes Quartet, and the Franz Robert/Benny Woodard Trio featuring Conner Duke.

Paul Arslanian, co-creative director of the Northampton Jazz Festival, said the lineup for this year’s concert event is unique from that of previous years. “We’re featuring young, unique voices and artists who are exploring different avenues of jazz,” Arslanian said. “We’re hoping to showcase a wide variety of jazz genres.”

Arslanian said that a lineup of so many accomplished and diverse artists is not something that is seen on the stage of most jazz festivals.

The week’s events begin Tuesday, Sept. 8 with a performance by tenor saxophonist Felipe Salles at the Northampton Jazz Workshop at The Loft at the Clarion Hotel, starting at 7:30 p.m. Saxophone students from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will be performing with Salles, along with The Green Street Trio.

From Wednesday, Sept. 9 to Friday, Sept. 11, Downtown Struts are planned in Amherst, Easthampton and Northampton, respectively. The struts will give music lovers a chance to explore many different venues in each town and hear local and regional jazz musicians perform.

David Picchi, co-creative director of the Northampton Jazz Festival alongside Arslanian, said that performers for the Amherst Downtown Strut on Wednesday, Sept. 9 are still being finalized. However, it is certain that Free Range Cats will be one of the bands featured.

On Thursday, Sept. 10, the Easthampton Downtown Strut, which will commence at 5:30 p.m., will feature The Pangeans in front of the Old Town Hall, the Nancy Janoson Trio at Galaxy, and the Carol Smith Trio at Nini’s Ristorante. The Northampton Downtown Strut on Friday, Sept. 11 will include seven additional bands, starting at 6 p.m.: Mtali Banda Oneness Project on the Northampton Court House lawn, The O-Tones at McLadden’s, the Claire Arenius Trio at One Bar & Grill, the Scott Mullett Trio at The Deck Bar, the Jeremy Turgeon Quartet at Ibiza Tapas Wine Bar, FlavaEvolution at The Sierra Grille, and Mammal Dap at Bishop’s Lounge.

The main performances on Saturday, Sept. 12 will kick off with the Jazz Futures Stage on the Hampshire Courthouse Lawn with student bands from six local schools: UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Holyoke Community College, Greenfield Community College, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School and the Northampton Community Music Center. Picchi hopes that by incorporating the Student Stage in the center of downtown Northampton, the Northampton Jazz Festival will involve as large a part of the local community as possible. He said this set-up also gives students, whom he calls “the future of jazz music,” a chance to shine.

The Saturday main stage concert will be hosted by two notable emcees from New England Public Radio. Tom Reney, host of the radio show Jazz à la Mode, will announce the performers in the first half of the festival, followed by Kari Njiiri, host of Jazz Safari and a senior news reporter for NEPR.

In addition, at least 10 food trucks will be on site to offer such fare as pizza, sausage, organic burgers and ice cream throughout the day. The second annual Northampton Jazz Festival Home Brew Challenge will take place from 3 to 5 p.m.; regional home brewers will have an opportunity to put their brews to the test of guest tasters.

For more information or to help sponsor the event, contact Yvonne Mendez at Jazz fans can get more information at Contributions may be sent to Northampton Jazz Festival, P. O. Box 641, Northampton, MA 01061.

Major sponsors include: Baystate Urgent Care, TD Bank, North Coast Brewing Company, Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, UMass Fine Arts Center, Northampton Arts Council, MassLive, McLadden’s, Northampton Jazz Workshop, Silverscape Designs, Florence Bank, The Artisan Gallery, Hampshire Hospitality Group, The Clarion Hotel, 90+ Cellars, Delap Real Estate, Lia Auto Group, Log Cabin/Delaney, Thornes Marketplace, and Daury Wealth Management.

Featured Image: "Diego Urcola's Trumpet" by Jimmy Baikovicius. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.