The Jazz Festival’s Downtown Jamboree takes over Bloomfield Avenue on Saturday

Christian McBride, double bass player, DJ, jazz educator and artistic director of Jazz House Kids, will headline the BDP Holdings stage at the Downtown Jamboree of the Montclair Jazz Festival. (COURTESY JAZZ HOUSE KIDS)

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The annual Montclair Jazz Festival ends this weekend with a big party.

This year, the organizers have spread the festival over months, instead of the usual two weeks, launch over 25 hours of live jazz music in July. Saturday will be the Downtown Jamboree – an all-day block party with four live music stages and several food vendors on Bloomfield Avenue. The road will be closed to traffic from Grove Street to Midland Avenue.

This year, artist Andres Chaparro will present his 2018 painting by Nina Simone, “Black Lash Blues”, which served as the face of the festival, featured on its advertisements and website.

“This year it’s Nina Simone’s turn,” said Melissa Walker, president and founder of Jazz House Kids. The arts and education organization has produced the festival for 12 years, although the 2020 version is a fully virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic. “[Simone] helped galvanize the civil rights movement through song. And it’s that moment that we hope will help galvanize our community to come and say, “We’re back.” We are a community. We help each other. And we’re just going to have fun.

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From 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Downtown Jamboree will feature over 100 food and craft vendors from across Montclair. Each of the four stages will have five live performances.

BDP assets stage

Billy Hart of Montclair has recorded 12 albums in his own name and has acted as a sideman on over 600 recordings. (COURTESY JAZZ HOUSE KIDS)

The BDP Holdings stage at Lackawanna Plaza will begin with the Jazz House Collective celebrating Roy Hargrove and conducted by Nathan Eklund at 1:30 pm. At 3 pm Montclair’s Billy Hart will perform with the Billy Hart Quartet. At 4:30 p.m. Alicia Olatuja will take center stage with music that mixes opera and classical music with jazz, gospel, soul and other influences. At 6 p.m., the Sean Jones Quartet will perform.

“Christian McBride [Jazz House Kids Artistic Director] brings an amazing group of stars with Mike Stern and Chris Potter, ”Walker said. “If you want to see this band, this is really the first time this band has performed together.” The performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will close the BDP Holdings stage at Lackawanna Plaza.

BID stage at Center Montclair

“The Baylor Project” stars husband and wife duo Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor, both children of pastors whose musical roots go back to church. Their music has influences from gospel, blues, soul and jazz. (COURTESY JAZZ HOUSE KIDS)

“And then you go on stage at the Montclair Center BID and we’re going to start with an Afro-Cuban jazz group called CUBOP. [at 1 p.m.]”Walker said.” And then Rudresh Mahanthappa, also Montclarien and head of the jazz program at Princeton University, is going to perform with his band, called Hero Trio, [at 2:30 p.m.]. ”

This stage will take place on Bloomfield and Fullerton avenues.

At 4 p.m., saxophonist and singer Camille Thurman, professor at Jazz House Kids, with the Camille Thurman Quintet. At 5:30 p.m., the Emmet Cohen Trio will perform.

“Emmet was a part of Jazz House and his career is just stellar,” Walker said. “He really used this pandemic and brought a lot of artists to the fore. He had a series of salon concerts that still goes on. We are really delighted that he is bringing his trio back to Montclair. And, once again, it is a young person who is from the region.

The Montclair Center BID stage lineup will end with The Baylor Project, a husband and wife duo founded on love, family, faith, culture and community, Walker said. This performance begins at 7 p.m.

“They are world class musicians,” Walker said. “We focus and feature great musicians who live in our community. And some of them actually have wonderful international careers, but they’re kind of in our own backyard, and some of them are professors. ”

Tenor saxophonist Camille Thurman has toured with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, becoming the first woman in its 30-year history to perform full-time with the group. (COURTESY JAZZ HOUSE KIDS)

Alumni All-Star Stages

The last two stages will focus on Jazz House alumni.

A stage set on Glenridge Avenue will begin at 1 p.m. with Patrick Gannon, followed by Rayner Perez at 2:30 p.m., Baker Street Trio at 4 p.m. Whisper McRae at 5 p.m. and Alex Delazzari at 6:30 p.m.

On a Church Street stage, Jazz House Adult Big Band will open at 1 p.m., followed by Jalin Silver at 2 p.m., Sen Raines at 3:30 p.m., Kakuyon Mataeh at 5 p.m. and Galo Inga at 6:30 p.m.

“People are just going to be eliminated by one group after another,” Walker said. “These young people, many of whom started at the age of 10, 11 at the Jazz House. And they just make music. We couldn’t be prouder of their success, on and off stage. ”

The Downtown Jamboree will also have several vendors along Bloomfield Avenue. Jazz House Kids has partnered with the Center Montclair Business Improvement District to help promote businesses, including several Jazz House partners, in the region.

“So many businesses have been hit very hard by Ida and some of them have not been able to open their doors,” Walker said. “I hope that the festival can act as a relay for these companies which have been really hard hit by many difficult circumstances. ”

For families with children, the Family Jazz Discovery Zone will be located in Crane Park. The event, in partnership with the Montclair Art Museum and the Montclair Public Library, will provide a place for children to hang out, exercise, make art and read.

The festival is pedestrian friendly and Walker encourages people to bring chairs to listen to the performances. Bike & Walk Montclair and will offer free valet stations at the two Montclair YMCAs, 25 Park St. and 125 Glenridge Ave, near Crane Park.

Since Bloomfield Avenue will be closed all day for the festival, parking can be difficult. There will be free public parking in the lower lot of Lackawanna Plaza Shopping Center, with entrance on Glenridge Avenue. There will be paid parking in township garages as well as metered parking in side streets.

The Downtown Jamboree was one of the most ambitious and important events Jazz House Kids has ever hosted, Walker said. She said she was grateful for the support the organizers received from Montclair Township and Essex County, as well as donors.

“Our fans have now witnessed this for 12 years, where we have truly had a very exciting and harmonious meeting of people, artists and the community,” Walker said. “And that’s what we look forward to again. So we come together again. We have missed people and are happy to be back.

More information on the Downton Jamboree and other upcoming Jazz House Kids events can be found at To volunteer for the festival, send an email [email protected].

Willie J. Johnson