Despite the demise of the JVC Jazz Festival, there will still be a major jazz festival in the New York area – the sanofi-aventis Jazzfest. Originally started as part of the Newport Jazz Festival New York, Jazzfest has been presented by the New Jersey Jazz Society for 34 years. This popular jazz festival will take place on the campus of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey on June 5 and 6 and is now the region’s only true straight ahead jazz festival.
Jazzfest kicks off with a free concert sponsored by Jazzmobile and the Madison Downtown Development Commission on Friday at 7:00. Featuring three of New Jersey’s best student jazz bands, the concert has become a New Jersey Jazz Society tradition of celebrating jazz education and young talented musicians.
On Saturday, the gates open at 11:00 am and the music begins at noon and runs until 10:00 PM. In the afternoon, four bands will alternate sets on three stages both indoors in the Dorothy Young Performing Arts Center and outdoors under the jazz tent. Those bands include a tribute to the great Benny Goodman with the Allan Vache Benny Goodman Tribute Big Band, the Houston Person Quartet, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, Trio da Paz and the Generations of Jazz with Pam Purvis.
In the evening, three groups take the main stage with the Rio Clemente Trio and vocalist Laura Hull kicking things off at 5:30 pm. At 7:00 pm, jazz singer Curtis Stigers takes the stage followed by Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra.
· The Benny Goodman Tribute Big Band is one of the official bands approved by the great clarinetist’s estate to celebrate the centennial of his birth. Led by Allen Vache, the band features some of the swingingest musicians in jazz, including Warren Vache, Terry Blaine, Randy Reinhart, Tom Artin, Mark Shane and Joe Ascione.
· Complimenting the swing of the Goodman band will be Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks whose recreation of hot jazz from the twenties and thirties have made them one of the most sought after ensembles in the country, with many guest appearances in film and on radio.
· Trio da Paz brings together three of Brazil’s top jazz musicians, Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Duduka deFonseca. Their brand of infectious South American jazz has given them a worldwide audience.
· Saxophonist Houston Person is riding a new wave of popularity as a younger generation is discovering his soulful, bluesy style. Although he has recorded more that 75 albums, he has never lost his creative, swinging edge.
· In the evening, Jazzfest will feature the locally popular Rio Clemente Trio with singer Laura Hull from 5:30 to 7:00. They will be followed by singer Curtis Stigers who has made the transition from pop star in the 1980s to jazz star today. He has appeared with Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few of the great artists who love his style. He has been called the “best male jazz singer of his generation” by the critics.
· The evening concludes with one of the best big bands on the scene today, the all-woman big band Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Leading critic and reader polls consistently rank them as one of the best big bands in the world and for good reason. Following in the tradition of the Buddy Rich Big Band, DIVA blends a contemporary sound with a big band tradition. Their performances are uniquely spontaneous, energetic and lots of fun.
The sanofi-aventis Jazzfest co-sponsored by RXR will also feature great food and many vendors all day on Saturday, including a special Southern Barbecue, sales of rare CDs and vinyl records, jazz related art and jewelry as well as many craft and retail vendors. The festival is also made possible by the generous support of corporations and local organizations, including JazzMobile, Riker Danzig, Madison Downtown Development Commission, Toyota of Morristown, WBGO Jazz88FM and JazzTimes Magazine. The Best Western Morristown Inn is the official festival hotel and offers a special discount room rate for attendees of the festival. The Morristown Inn is located just two miles from the Drew campus in historic Morristown.
The New Jersey Jazz Society will also take time out to honor Bill Hyland, for many years the legal and music advisor for Benny Goodman, Todd Rechler whose company RSR Realty is a champion of the arts in the region, and sanofi-aventis which has supported Jazzfest for the past five years.
Tickets are only $50.00 in advance, but will be $65.00 at the gate on June 6. New Jersey Jazz Society members enjoy even larger savings. For more information, advance sale discount tickets, membership information and hotel reservations log onto http://www.njjs.org/ or call 800-303-6557. Students are $10.00 at the gate and kids 16 and under are free. Drew University is conveniently located on Route 124 in Madison and parking is free. The university is also easily accessible by public transportation.