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August marks the peak season for live jazz in Massachusetts, with eight terrific jazz festivals slated over the next three weeks! Boston, Salem, Springfield, Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard and Rockport are great summer destinations for their natural beauty, dining and hospitality assets, and for live jazz.
Performers range from local favorites like vocalist Pat Braxton, sax player Grace Kelly and the Salem High Jazz Band to internationally acclaimed artists like Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Pedrito Martinez and Monty Alexander.
To find full summer and fall schedules of jazz and blues festivals in Massachusetts go to MassJazz.com/festivals. Here is a run-down of August jazz festivals:
The 14th Annual Provincetown Jazz Festival (August 9 & 13), organized by popular jazz drummer Bart Weisman, is perfect celebrate of P-Town’s cultural richness. On Monday, August 13, the festival moves to the Cotuit Center for the Arts in Cotuit, with performances by the Tim Ray Trio and vocalist Daryl Sherman.
The 6th Annual Rockport Jazz Festival (August 9-12) has attracted leading international performers on the jazz circuit to this beautiful seaside town. This year’s lineup includes saxophonist Grace Kelly, vocalist Kurt Elling, pianist Monty Alexander and the Joe Lovano Classic Quartet. The concerts are held in the breathtaking Shalin Liu Performance Center.
The 5th Annual Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival (August 11) features Latin jazz performers, including saxophonist Maceo Parker, Afro-Cuban singer and percussionist Pedrito Martinez, vocalists Sweet Honey in the Rock, guitarist Jon Cleary and bassist Avery Sharp. An opening jazz parade through downtown Springfield is led by New Orleans native Henri Smith.
The 8th Annual Jazz on the Vineyard (August 11-12) celebrates jazz on Martha’s Vineyard, a wonderful summer destination. Five-time Grammy winner Dianne Reeves, just named as a 2018 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, is this year’s marquee performer. The festival supports the Student Achievement through Opportunity (SATO) and provides educational opportunities for talented young scholars.
The 12th Annual Salem Jazz & Soul Festival (August 18-19) attracts over 6,000 people to the Salem Willows each year for a free festival featuring top local groups. This year watch the Salem High Jazz Band, Ethan Santos, The Darlings, First Friday Funk, Allstar Revue and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.
The Springfield Indie Soul Festival (August 25) feature vocalist Gloria Ryan, R&B Artist Heshima Moja, Singer/Songwriter Mr. Qwes, soul roots rockers Toussiant Liberator and the Naya Rockets, roots music/hiphop/jazz band Malado Music, vocalist Tia Shanae and soul singer SuCh.
The 8th Annual Boston Jazz Festival (August 25) at the Raymond L. Flynn Maritime Park in the Seaport District pays tribute to jazz’s African American roots. This year’s festival features Ron Savage Trio, Wali Ali, Amazing Z.Y.G, the GroovaLottos, Sivan Arbel, Erena Terakubo and Pat Braxton.
Launched in 2008 by music promoter Sheila Baptista, Martha’s Vineyard Jazz and Blues Summerfest 2018 (August 30-September 2) is a perfect way to head into the Labor Day weekend. Performers include Jazzmeia Horn, Sage, Alyson Williams and Maysa. A Summerfest Marketplace features an array of vendors, artists, crafts and beverage tasting opportunities.
In addition to the vibrant festivals that attract visitors worldwide, the distinct jazz scene carries into neighborhoods and communities throughout Massachusetts. For more on where to find and celebrate jazz in the Bay State, visit MassJazz.com.