Litchfield Performing Arts, a non-profit founded in 1981, launched the first Litchfield Jazz Festival in 1996 with a line-up any well-established festival would have been proud of. It included Ahmad Jamal, J.J. Johnson, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, Mario Pavone and Diana Krall, among others. This summer marks the 15th Anniversary of the Litchfield Jazz Festival.
The Festivities kick off at 5:30 pm with The Friends of the Festival Gala on Friday evening, August 6 at The Morrison Gallery just down the road from the Festival grounds. Partygoers will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, small plates, micro-brews, premium wines and music by outstanding students of Litchfield Jazz Camp. Proceeds from the Gala support scholarships for the camp. Opening Night performances follow in the Springs Center at Kent School. At 7:45 PM is jazz legend Dave Brubeck with his quartet for their third Litchfield Jazz Festival appearance. The Festival is proud to dedicate its 15th Anniversary to Mr. Brubeck. Closing the evening at 9:15 PM will be a rousing set by the lovely vocalist, Denise Thimes.
Saturday, August 7 starts off at noon with trumpet player, Gabriel Alegria, one of the most influential figures on the Peruvian jazz scene, with his Afro-Peruvian Sextet. At 1:45, 25-year-old Grammy-nominated pianist, Gerald Clayton, takes the stage with his trio. Next up at 3:30 is vibraphonist Dave Samuels with his Caribbean Jazz Project. This marks the two- time Latin Grammy-winner’s second appearance on our main stage. At 5:15 LJF welcomes Connecticut native, bassist Mario Pavone, who appears this year with his Orange Double Tenor Sextet, is a favorite at Litchfield Festival and Jazz Camp as well, where he has been teaching since 1998. He appears through an Award from Chamber Music American with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Anniversary celebration continues with an All-Star Cannonball Adderley Tribute at 7:00 led by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Wess Anderson and featuring Terell Stafford, Benny Green, Matt Wilson and introducing vocalist Joanna Pascale. And hitting a high note as the final performance on Saturday evening, is Grammy Award winning pianist and composer, Arturo O’Farrill with his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra at 8:45. This group was created for Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 to bring Afro-Cuban jazz to a wider audience, and we’re thrilled to present them in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills.
Opening on Sunday, August 8, at noon is bassist Avery Sharpe’s Trio. Avery is best known for the 20 years he spent in the McCoy Tyner Trio, but his credits are impressive and varied having worked with artists from Dizzy Gillespie to Pat Metheny. At 1:30 Grammy nominated soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett returns with her group, the Spirits of Havana, for their fourth LJF appearance. At 3:30 we present one of this summer’s up-and-coming young talents – 24-year-old violinist Aaron Weinstein with his Trio. This will be Aaron’s first appearance on any jazz festival, and we’re thrilled to present this sharp, witty and talented young artist on our main stage. Born in Tel Aviv, Anat Cohen has been making a major impact on the jazz scene as a clarinetist and composer. The first ever ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame winner, Anat appears at 5:15 with her powerhouse trio, with Benny Green on piano and Peter Washington on bass. And at 7:00, we’re thrilled to present for the first time, 13-time Grammy winner, banjo player Béla Fleck, who will appear with a world-famous band -- Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain and bassist/composer Edgar Meyer.
The Litchfield Jazz Festival is sponsored in part by the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, CT State Department of Education, DownBeat, Republican-American, Steinway & Sons Westport Gallery, Charter Communications, Sotheby's International Realty, Litchfield Magazine, Crystal Rock Water Company, Infinity Hall & Bistro, Kent Chamber of Commerce, Magic Hat Brewery, WAMC, WBGO, WFCR, WNPR, WSHU, The Morrison Gallery and others. Litchfield Jazz Camp students, who study for up to a month prior to The Festival and perform on the student stage, participate through major support from the CT State Department of Education Interdistrict Grants and additional support from The Joe Williams Every Day Fund and Faye & James Preston of the Kent Village Barn Shops and LPA members. For ticket information vist our Buy Ticket page or call 860-361-6285.
15th Anniversary Litchfield Jazz Festival Line-up
Friday, August 6th
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Saturday, August 7th
Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet
Gerald Clayton Trio
Dave Samuels Caribbean Jazz Project
Mario Pavone Orange Double Tenor Sextet
with support from Chamber Music American and The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
All-Star Cannonball Adderley Tribute
featuring Wess Anderson, Terell Stafford, Benny Green, Matt Wilson, and Joanna Pascale
Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Sunday, August 8th
Aaron Weinstein Trio
Avery Sharpe Trio
Jane Bunnett & the Spirits of Havana
Anat Cohen Trio
Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer
Discounted train and festival tickets, and a free shuttle bus are available through mta.info. The Metro North Harlem line train stops just ten miles from Kent. Enjoy the towns array of art galleries, cafes, shops and more. The weekend includes an opening night “Friends of the Festival Gala” hosted at The Morrison Gallery, three days of jazz, fine arts and craft exhibitors, master classes, a variety of food vendors and performances on a second stage by Litchfield Jazz Camp students.
Tickets start at $29. Children under 12 with an adult are free on the lawn. Make a weekend of it and enjoy your stay in Kent; visit www.kentct.com for B&B, restaurant and art gallery information. And for more on visiting Litchfield County and Connecticut visit www.litchfieldhills.com and www.ctvisit.com.