Riverview Jazz
Riverview Jazz

The Jersey City Jazz Festival, now in its ninth year, will take place Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 in the Powerhouse Arts District, which is located in Jersey City’s downtown. The free event, produced by Riverview Jazz in cooperation with the Exchange Place Alliance, will feature fourteen bands on two stages, food trucks, and a full bar. On June 5 the festival will coincide with the Jersey City Ward Tour, operated by Bike JC.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this year’s festival,” says Riverview Jazz director Bryan Beninghove. “This is going to be a real JC-vibe party … the talent is top-notch, and it’s a free event for the community … thank you sponsors, donors, and partners!”

This year’s festival will feature no shortage of talent. Guitar aficionados will be in for a treat with an array of virtuosic performers including world-renowned Julian Lage (June 5 at 4 p.m.); modern gypsy jazz artist Gonzalo Bergara (June 5 at 2 p.m.); flamenco master Andreas Arnold (June 4 at 4 p.m.); and the guitar-driven roots spiritual ensemble Walter Parks and the Unlawful Assembly (June 5 at 1 p.m.).

Hard core jazz lovers will be thrilled with crowd favorite Winard Harper and Jeli Posse (June 4 at 3 p.m.); vocalist and WBGO on-air personality Lezlie Harrison (June 4 at 1 p.m.); and jazz piano maestro David Kikoski (June 4 at 2 p.m.).

In keeping with tradition, both days will close with dancing to salsa performances by two legendary percussionists: Little Johnny Rivero (June 4 at 7 p.m.) and Johnny Rodriguez and the Dream Team (June 5 at 5 p.m.). An eclectic set of dynamic groups round out the lineup: acclaimed vocalist Svetlana, presented by NJCU (June 4 at 6 p.m.); the bass-fronted Afro Cuban jazz power group Santi Debriano’s Arkestra Bembe (June 4 at 5 p.m.); the hot-blooded percussion and mighty brass sounds of Nation Beat (June 4 at noon); the New Orleans-based “trad” group Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses (June 5 at 3 p.m.); and the stylish Sounds of A & R (June 5 at noon).

Formerly called “The Riverview Jazz Festival,” The Jersey City Jazz Festival started in 2013 as a grassroots concert in Riverview-Fiske Park in the Heights. The event has blossomed into one of the region’s premiere cultural events, something Beninghove attributes to the area’s high concentration of musical talent.

“We have some of the best players in the world here,” according to Beninghove, “and it’s not just one style of music or jazz, it’s everything! It is so important for the community to experience this level of excellence, because it is unique and special.”

While admission to the two-day event is free, attendees are encouraged to make a $10 per person “suggested donation.” Information on VIP tickets, directions, parking, and volunteering, and links to the artists can be found at www.JerseyCityJazzFestival.com.

Bank of America is serving as the “Jazz Master Sponsor” of this year’s event. Other main sponsors and partners include NJ PBS, Jersey City Cultural Affairs, Hudson County Cultural Affairs, WBGO, Sawyer Smith Residential, Ketel One, Cort Furniture, and NJCU.

Featured photo: Vocalist Lezlie Harrison

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.