Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival has become one of the largest gatherings in Northeast United States.
New Jersey’s annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival will be held on the Morristown Green on Saturday, September 17, from noon until 10:00 p.m. An initiative by Morristown, New Jersey Mayor Tim Dougherty, the Festival enters its 12th year thanks to the generous support of a long list of sponsors. It is a major reason that European jazz lovers are scheduling visits to the States in mid-September.
“There is a lot happening in New Jersey in September,” says Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, “and this free festival is one of the highlights. But Morristown has much more to offer including George Washington’s Headquarters, the lovely museum Macculloch Hall, Historic Speedwell where the Telegraph was invented, and many fabulous restaurants. We have many visitors from Europe attending the Festival and welcome everyone.”
As always, the free Festival takes place on the historic Green in the center of Morristown, New Jersey. It begins at noon with James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band featuring Dan Levinson. Called “just amazingly great” by author and music critic Will Friedwald, the 14-piece ensemble is famed for their authentic swing-era sound. Some of the band members include pianist Rossano Sportiello, trumpeters Brian Pareschi and Mike Davis, saxophonist Will Anderson, trombonists Jim Fryer and Harvey Tibbs, and guitarist/vocalist Molly Ryan.
Dan Levinson headlines with the 14-piece James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band at noon on Saturday, September 17
photo courtesy of Tom Salva.
At 2:00, the Festival continues a tradition established by the great Bucky Pizzarelli and brings Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night at Birdland Band featuring guitarist Jimmy Bruno, keyboardist John DiMartino, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, and drummer Vince Cherico. This year’s special guest is the great clarinetist Ken Peplowski. Frank and the band play every week at the famed nightclub in New York City.
“I am thrilled to return to Morristown in September,” observes Frank Vignola, “and am especially pleased that Ken Peplowski will be able to join us. We are planning to play some of classic jazz standards which we know that our fans will enjoy.”
Frank Vignola leads his Guitar Night At Birdland Band with the legendary guitarist Jimmy Bruno and special guest clarinetist Ken Peplowski
photo courtesy of MorristownGreen.com
At 4:00, the Festival brings back audience favorite, trumpeter, singer and songwriter, Bria Skonberg and her quintet. Bria, whom the New York Times called “the shining hope of hot jazz,” will blend some new material with classics, featuring her fiery trumpet work, award-winning vocals and always entertaining stories.
The multi-award-winning trumpeter and singer/songwriter Bria Skonberg returns to the Festival at 4:00 with an all-star quintet
photo courtesy of MorristownGreen.com
The 6:00 set introduces a 17-year-old who has captivated the blues world with her rocking piano playing and soaring vocals, Veronica Lewis. She has been compared to Pinetop Perkins and Dr. John, and her debut album garnered two Blues Music Nominations in 2022 for Best Emerging Artist Album and Pinetop Piano Player of the Year. She has also been awarded Boston Music Awards Blues Artist of the Year, the 2021 Blues Blast New Artist Debut Album Award, and the 2021 Blues Blast Sean Costello Rising Star Award.
Pianist and vocalist Veronica Lewis has been compared to Marcia Ball, Pinetop Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, and she goes on at 6:00
photo courtesy of Intrepid Artists International.
The headline set features the legendary blues guitarist Walter Trout who got his start in New Jersey and still considers the Garden State his home. He honed his reputation with British star John Mayall and the Blues Breakers in the 1980s and Mayall called him “one of the most talented rock and blues players on the world’s stage.” Named one of the Top Ten Blues Rock Guitarist, he has won scores of awards, including the 2021 Song of the Year from Blues Music Awards.
Award-winning Blues Artist Walter Trout brings his quintet to the 8:00 set at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival on Saturday, September 17
photo courtesy of Tom Skevin
The Best Western PLUS Morristown Inn at 270 South Street is the official hotel for the Festival and is offering a special low rate for the weekend of September 16 and 17 so out-of-town guests can attend. More information about the hotel can be found on their website at www.morristowninn.com.
One of the sponsors for this year’s Festival is the Morris County Tourism Bureau which is a great place to find out what is happening in the Morristown area in September. They can suggest the historic sites and museums, the cultural institutions, great places to shop or eat, and what is happening in the area during your visit. They can be found at www.morristourism.org.
Jazz fans will have a lot to choose from in addition to the Festival. The world-class jazz club and restaurant, Shanghai Jazz, is just a few miles away from Morristown, in the lovely town of Madison, New Jersey. They are open from Tuesday through Saturday and have a full calendar of events which can be found on their website www.shanghaijazz.com.
The Central Jersey Jazz Festival takes place over the weekend of September 9-11 and includes great artists such as pianist Cyrus Chestnut, percussionist Bobby Sanabria and bassist John Lee. For more details about this free festival, go to www.centraljerseyjazzfestival.com.
The well-known Montclair Jazz Festival takes place over the months of August and September and culminates in a Jamboree on Saturday, September 10th from 1:00 until 9:00. Headlining this free extravaganza will be bassist Christian McBride, pianist Monty Alexander and singer Danielle Ponder. The many concerts presented as part of the jazz festival can be found at www.montclairjazzfestival.org.
Be sure to bring lawn chairs and blankets to the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. For more information, visit www.morristownjazzandblues.org and plan to visit New Jersey in September for some great jazz.
Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival 2022 Jazzespresso Jazz Magazine copyright 2022
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