By Brian Kaufenberg
Summer may be months away, but the Twin Cities Jazz Festival is giving jazz enthusiasts and winter-weary Minnesotans reason to rejoice today. The 16th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival, held in Lowertown St. Paul’s Mears Park, announced that Grammy Award winning vocalist Diane Reeves and NEA Jazz Master Branford Marsalis from the famed Marsalis family will headline this year’s festival.
The high caliber of talent for this year’s festival is especially impressive. To date, Diane Reeves has won four Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for: In the Moment – Live In Concert (2001), The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan (2002), A Little Moonlight (2004), Good Night, and Good Luck (Soundtrack) (2006). She is the only singer to have won this Grammy three consecutive albums.
Branford Marsalis is a saxophonist and is eldest of the Marsalis brothers which includes Wynton Marsalis. While primarily known for his work as the leader of the Branford Marsalis Quartet, he has also worked with Sting (of The Police, not the wrestler), filmmaker Spike Lee in School Daze, led the Tonight Show Band for Jay Leno, and played with The Grateful Dead on numerous occasions.
Also featured are 24-year-old and 2013 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition Winner Melissa Aldana and three-time winner of the New Orlean’s “Big Easy Award” Joe Krown. Aldana was the first woman instrumentalist to be honored with a Monk award in the history of the prestigious competition. Krown was the long-time keyboardist for Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and has appeared frequently at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The Twin Cities Jazz Festival is a perennial favorite for music lovers of all kinds who are able to enjoy free world-class jazz in the park. According to a press release from the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, the weekend begins with the annual “Jazz Night Out” with music in the clubs on Thursday. On Friday music kicks off in Mears Park from 4–10pm, and a full line-up on Saturday from Noon until 10pm. After music ends in the park each night, move over to one of the dozen clubs hosting more live jazz until 1pm.
Last year’s festival included music from world-class pianist and composer Kenny Werner, Baltimore’s own pianist Cyrus Chestnut, critically-acclaimed saxophonist Walter Smith III, and the up-and-coming Matt Slocum. If last’s year’s performances were any indication of what’s to come this summer, attendees are in for a fantastic weekend of music.
“This year will have an incredible line-up, two of the most lauded artists in modern jazz, a star of tomorrow, and one of the biggest names from the Big Easy!” exclaims Steve Heckler. “We are so excited to bring everyone together in Saint Paul.”
Visit the Twin Cities Jazz Festival’s website for more information as it is released.