Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival

Charmaine, Grace & Charles2222

Photo by EdCohen

SPRINGFIELD JAZZ & ROOTS FESTIVAL On August 6th, 2016, Springfield became the place to be for world-class jazz and roots music and culture. The third annual Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival drew an audience of 8,000-10,000 people from western MA and the New England region. The legendary musician and proud Springfield native Taj Mahal, who almost single-handedly redefined the blues sound, headlined our free, unticketed event. The Main Stage opened with high school musicians from the Charles M. Greenlee Ensemble of the Community Music School of Springfield, followed by an illustrious lineup including Jose Gonzalez and Banda Criolla, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils, Heshima Moja and Ofrecimiento with American Idol finalist Rayvon Owen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Joey DeFrancesco. The Community Stage in the church just off Court Square boasted incredible local jazz and spoken word talent. Music ranged from Latin jazz that had us all dancing, to soulful R&B vocals backed by fiery guitar, to swampy and sultry jazz that took us straight to New Orleans. New this year, we added a third venue; the MassLive lobby offered: a photo exhibit celebrating local music and arts, original performances about social issues by Springfield’s First Generation youth theater group, and an interview and performance featuring Springfield’s musical roots. Just outside, two Springfield artists gave attendees the exhilarating opportunity to help create a mural to be displayed in a Court Square storefront.

Festivalgoers feasted on wide ranging cuisine from local food and drink vendors, shopped at local artisans’ and area businesses’ booths, and learned about nonprofits serving the city. Festivalgoers also enjoyed Springfield youth dance performances between the Main Stage acts, listened to jazz poetry and jazz children’s book readings by Springfield’s Poet Laureate, improvised with unusual electronic instruments and listened to recordings of their music, and participated in various creative activities. Plus, many attended workshops by music aficionados at the Community Music School of Springfield in the days before the festival and on event day; featuring Billy Arnold on the essence of the drums, Javon Jackson on jazz improvisation, Samirah Evans on singing, and Terri Lynne Carrington on building a musical career.

Our goal is to continue to grow the reach and impact of the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival, presenting world-class music, highlighting the cultural richness and diversity of this urban center of Western MA, giving a boost to the local economy, and engaging artists and a diverse community in fueling Springfield’s revitalization.

Visit here www.springfieldjazzfest.com

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Our Urban Roots Initiative
An ongoing focus of our work has been to raise awareness on social and environmental issues. This year, the Festival introduces a food program that highlights local and sustainably grown food as a centerpiece of the festival experience. This program is developed in partnership with a number of gardening organizations including Springfield's Gardening The Community, Nuestras Raices, Wellspring Greenhouse, and UMASS's urban agriculture program.
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We’re happy to welcome Springfield native Sarah Elizabeth Charles to the Jazz Fest stage August 12. She will participate in Jazz and Justice event on August 11 and will perform with Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah.

Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a rising vocalist/composer based in New York City. She has worked and studied with artists such as George Cables, Geri Allen, Nicholas Payton, Sheila Jordan, Jimmy Owens and Carmen Lundy and more. She has performed at The White House, the first annual Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, The Kennedy Center, the Bern International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival, the Sicca Jazz Festival in Tunisia, the Blue Note in New York City, Gillette Stadium as a National Anthem singer for the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, the Burlington Jazz Festival, the Apollo Music Café, Le Poisson Rouge, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Rose Theatre with Jazz at Lincoln Center and many more.

In addition to her performances, Sarah is also an active educator. She works as a teaching artist with Carnegie Hall’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Lullaby and Future Music Project Youth workshops, has a private lessons studio in New York City and is developing an early childhood music education program with Rise2Shine, a non-profit organization based in Fond Parisien, Haiti.
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“I’m in love with the way that Ella Fitzgerald delivered a lyric,” Lizz Wright says. “She would deliver a lyric with the kind of clarity that would make you wonder why it was written, and make you think about the writer. I think every writer hopes an Ella of any genre or anytime gets a hold of their work and works the song like that.”

On July 19, Lizz Wright will be a part of a celebration called 100 Years: Dizzy and Ella, a part of the Hollywood Bowl.

More from the Orange County Register:

Lizz Wright, #spfldjazzfest,
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