Jersey City Jazz Festival returns June 4 weekend

The Jersey City Jazz Festival, now in its ninth year, will take place Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 at the Powerhouse Arts District, located in downtown Jersey City. The free event, produced by Riverview Jazz in conjunction with the Exchange Places Alliance, will feature fourteen bands on two stages, food trucks and a full bar. On June 5, the festival will coincide with the Jersey City Neighborhood Touroperated by Bike JC.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this year’s festival,” says Riverview Jazz director Bryan Beninghove. “It’s going to be a real JC-vibe party…the talent is on top, and it’s a free event for the community…thank you sponsors, donors and partners!”

This year’s festival will not lack talent. Guitar aficionados will be delighted by an array of virtuoso performers, including the world-famous Julian Lage (June 5 at 4 p.m.); modern gypsy jazz artist Gonzalo Bergara (June 5 at 2 p.m.); flamenco master Andreas Arnold (June 4 at 4 p.m.); and spiritual roots guitar ensemble Walter Parks and the Unlawful Assembly (June 5 at 1 p.m.).

Die-hard jazz fans will be delighted with crowd favorites Winard Harper and Jeli Posse (June 4 at 3 p.m.); singer and WBGO on-air personality Lezlie Harrison (June 4 at 1 p.m.); and jazz piano maestro David Kikoski (June 4 at 2 p.m.).

As tradition dictates, the two days will end with salsa dance performances by two legendary percussionists: Little Johnny Rivero (June 4 at 7 p.m.) and Johnny Rodriguez and the Dream Team (June 5 at 5 p.m.). An eclectic cast of dynamic bands round out the lineup: acclaimed singer Svetlana, presented by NJCU (June 4 at 6 p.m.); Arkestra Bembe by Santi Debriano’s Arkestra Bembe (June 4 at 5 p.m.); the hot-blooded percussion and powerful brass sounds of Nation Beat (June 4 at noon); New Orleans-based “trad” band Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses (June 5 at 3 p.m.); and the elegant Sounds of A&R (June 5 at noon).

Formerly called ‘The Riverview Jazz Festival‘, the Jersey City Jazz Festival began in 2013 as a popular concert at Riverview-Fiske Park in the Heights. The event has become one of the region’s most important cultural events, which Beninghove attributes to the region’s high concentration of musical talent.

“We have some of the best musicians in the world here,” says Beninghove, “and it’s not just a style of music or jazz, that’s all! It is so important for the community to experience this level of excellence because it is unique and special.

Although admission to the two-day event is free, attendees are encouraged to make a “suggested donation” of $10 per person. Information on VIP tickets, directions, parking and volunteering, as well as links to performers are available at

Bank of America is the Jazz Master Sponsor of this year’s event. Other major sponsors and partners include NJ PBS, Jersey City Cultural Affairs, Hudson County Cultural Affairs, WBGO, Sawyer Smith Residential, Ketel One, Cort Furniture and NJCU.

Featured Photo: Singer Lezlie Harrison

Willie J. Johnson