Highlights for the city's largest jazz festival include a special appearance by cultural icon Aretha Franklin; rare collaborations between Bobby McFerrin & Questlove (following their recent performance together on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"), Ramsey Lewis with Earth, Wind & Fire's Philip Bailey, André Previn & Christian McBride, Monty Alexander's 70th Birthday (with various reggae and jazz guests, to be announced), and the "Children Of The Light Trio" featuring Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade (all whom are current members of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, making their official U.S. debut as a trio); crossover vocalists Michael McDonald, Michael Bolton, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, as well as album release performances by José James and Sérgio Mendes respectively; multi-faceted entertainer Reggie Watts; renowned bassist/producer Marcus Miller; and tenor saxophone legend Gato Barbieri, among others. Please visit www.BlueNoteJazzFestival.com for dates and venue information.
In addition to Blue Note Jazz Club, festival venues include B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, Highline Ballroom, The Town Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Central Park SummerStage, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, Rockwood Music Hall, Smalls Jazz Club, The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, IFC Center, Brooklyn Bowl, and Lucille's Bar & Grill at B.B. King Blues Club, among others. Festival co-presenters include Jill Newman Productions, MSG Entertainment, Bowery Presents, CEG/Nolafunk, Jazz Forum Arts, Jazz Journalists Association, and JazzReach.
"This year's festival puts a prime focus on distinctive collaborations," says Steven Bensusan, President of Blue Note Entertainment Group. "Shows such as Bobby McFerrin teaming up with Questlove and André Previn working with Christian McBride are rare opportunities for fans to hear world class artists perform together in unique musical settings."
Other jazz headliners include a rare U.S. performance by renowned bassist Avishai Cohen (his first New York City appearance in over two years, as leader or sideman); The Dizzy Gillespie™ Afro Cuban Experience featuring Machito Jr; tenor saxophone titans Joe Lovano and Eric Alexander as well up-and-comer Marcus Strickland; vocal masters Diane Schuur, Allan Harris, and Curtis Stigers; versatile pianists Michel Camilo, Hiromi, and Harold Mabern; as well as fusion-centric performances by keyboardist Jeff Lorber and Australian guitarist Albare; among others.
"We also continue to emphasize styles that are more broadly connected to jazz, to include everything from R&B, soul, and hip-hop to reggae, rock and Americana," adds Bensusan.
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill and Highline Ballroom will present a wide range of performances, including R&B/soul-centric artists such as Lalah Hathaway & Ruben Studdard, and Oleta Adams; reggae shows by Sly & Robbie and Tarrus Riley (in addition to Monty Alexander's birthday celebration); Americana/singer-songwriter artists Brandy Clark and the Beth Hart Band; eclectic global-centric acts Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Los Lobos and Yemen Blues (in addition to the legendary Sérgio Mendes); guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and Eric Gales; and jazz/rock drummer Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion; among others. Additionally, Blue Note Jazz Club will showcase several nu-jazz centric projects, including a special one-night collaboration featuring Beka & DJ Logic with Victor Bailey (and late night shows featuring crossover soul/funk saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, as well as BIGYUKI).
Other special partner events include the 2014 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards on June 11 at Blue Note Jazz Club; the New York City premiere of The Case of the Three Sided Dream, a documentary on jazz legend Rahsaan Roland Kirk, on June 11 at IFC Center; the National Jazz Museum in Harlem Benefit Concert on June 9 at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College; and Jazz Forum @ 35! on June 28 at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; among others.