The 17th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival returns to the Goshen Fairgrounds in northwest Connecticut’s beautiful Litchfield Hills this weekend. The stellar line-up features a variety of entertainment, from jazz legends to up-and-coming talent.
This three day jazz extravaganza opens at 5:45pm Friday evening with a gala in the Fairgrounds’ Sunset Lounge and will feature music by the outstanding students of Litchfield Jazz Camp. The gala will be followed by the music of the highly acclaimed Four Freshmen and an auction of jazz collectibles and memorabilia. Grammy nominated Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, featured on the award-winning HBO special series “Boardwalk Empire”, will close out Friday’s festivities at 9:30pm.
The Jazz Festival begins in earnest on Saturday, August 11 at noon with the remarkable pianist Helen Sung and her trio. A winner of the Kennedy Center Mary Lou Williams Award, Sung has toured with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and others.
At 1:45 pm, Avery Sharpe takes to the stage with a tribute to the suffragist Sojourner Truth, followed by the Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet. Akinmusire, a gifted trumpeter, won the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. The next offering is a stunning salute to George Coleman led by the most celebrated baritone sax player today, Gary Smulyan. Coleman, now 75 years old, started his career at 17 with the great B.B. King and is best known as a member of the Herbie Hancock Quintet. At 7pm, Benny Green, a Litchfield favorite, will grace the stage with Kenny Washington, Peter Washington, and Gary Smulyan. The blockbuster day ends with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, visiting all the way from New Orleans.
On Sunday, August 12, the Fest opens with Gregoire Maret. A Swiss native, Maret joined guitarist Pa Metheny’s Group in 2005, won a Grammy, toured with Marcus Miller and Herbie Hancock and then struck out on his on his own. This is his Litchfield debut.
In its annual salute to living legends, the Litchfield Jazz Festival is proud to present NEA Jazz Master Hubert Laws, a multi-talented musician and composer who has won kudos for scores he wrote for Neil Simon’s play “California Suite” and the films The Color Purple and The Wiz. At 5:15pm, saxophonist Miguel Zenón with take the stage to present his tribute to Puerto Rican Plena music, a work for which he was honored with a coveted MacArthur Genius Award. The Festival closes with a rousing tribute to Kansas City Swing.
The Litchfield Jazz Festival is taking place at the Goshen Fairgrounds, located at 116 Old Middle Street in Goshen, Connecticut.
For information and tickets visit litchfieldjazzfest.com or call (860)361-6285.