James on Jazz | Hot jazz on the horizon


Plans are underway for the 18th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival taking place this summer, and its organizers have already picked the artists who will entertain the diverse and multi-generational crowd of festival-goers on June 23-26.

Many will be familiar to this audience demographic, as they have visited other Minneapolis music venues such as the Dakota and Orchestra Hall previously, and have received a warm welcome.

“Window to Jazz” by James Powell (for 2016 poster)
“Window to Jazz” by James Powell (for 2016 poster)

NEA Jazz Masters Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis, with modern guitarists Russell Malone and John Pizzarelli, along with Michael Franti are this year’s headliners.

Additional local artists will be added to the schedule shortly, according to TC Jazz Fest Executive Director Steve Heckler.

The festival happens at Saint Paul’s Lowertown arts district, the Mears Park Main Stage, Sixth Street Stage, Union Depot Stage, and the new stage in Lowertown, plus over 20 clubs, bars and studio venues. Several hundred people from around the region and beyond usually attend the festivities and this year’s festival will be no different.

The mayor of Saint Paul, Chris Coleman, says, “The Twin Cities Jazz Festival perfectly represents what we’re celebrating with the Year of Music here in Saint Paul. Our streets fill with people, our clubs become packed with crowds, and some of the best musicians in the world come right here to Saint Paul — an amazing example of arts and music as the heartbeat of a vibrant community.”

Twin Cities Jazz Festival crowd
Twin Cities Jazz Festival crowd

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival is a nonprofit, established in 1998, with a mission to keep the art form of jazz alive and well in our community.

Supporters and advertisers of the 2016 Twin Cities Jazz Festival include AARP, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Xcel Energy, Oppidan Investment Company, Custom House, the Knight Foundation through its Knight Arts Challenge, Minnesota State Arts Board Festival Support Grant, NEA, and the City of Saint Paul Cultural Star.

Lisa Fischer (Courtesy of the Lisa Fischer Facebook page)
Lisa Fischer (Courtesy of the Lisa Fischer Facebook page)

You don’t have to wait until June rolls around to hear great jazz in the city, however! Here are few upcoming musical appearances at the Dakota that should whet your appetite:

• Vocalist Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton, March 7.

• Vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans 7 , March 13.

• SFJazz Collective: The Music of Michael Jackson, March 13-14. 

• Lizz Wright, featuring new music from her album Freedom & Surrender, April 19.


For more updates and information, visit the Twin Cities Jazz Festival Facebook page. Go here to join a mailing list for upcoming jazz events. Visit www.dakotacooks.com for a fulll listing of acts at the Dakota.

Robin James welcomes reader responses to jamesonjazz@spokesman-recorder.com.