The Jersey City Jazz Festival kicked off this afternoon despite threats from iffy weather and the ongoing construction at Exchange Place.

According to organizer Bryan Beninghove, it was touch-and-go this week as the city raced to replace water pipes under the soon-to-be renovated plaza at the foot of Montgomery Street.

Whatever stress Beninghove was feeling, singer Emily Braden was having none if it. Described as a “big, bad beauty from Boise, Idaho,” the charismatic Braden crooned and scatted her way through a set of standards and originals, ending with a jazz-funk medley of Whitney Houston tunes that had the crowd dancing and singing along with her.

The free festival continues tonight and tomorrow with a full roster of performers. Food and beverages are available for purchase.

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....