The festival has always been a great summer event, but in Kent it seems to have blossomed. These days, the festival that runs this year from Aug. 6 through Aug.8 is the crowning gem of a long list of events, many of them community-oriented and free.
Altogether, leading up to a main event that opens on a Friday evening with a gala at the Morrison Gallery and then a show featuring jazz legend Dave Brubeck is a month of free concerts. While the festival itself is fast approaching, there are still plenty of great appetizers being offered.
Litchfield Jazz Camp faculty will be presenting concerts Aug. 2, 3 and 4 at the Mattison Auditorium at Kent School, beginning at 7:15 p.m. Performers include jazz camp teaching artists trumpeters Claudio Roditi and Louise Baranger, bassists Mario Pavone, Avery Sharpe and Nilson Matta, pianists Junior Mance, Onaje Allen Gumbs and Peter Madsen, guitarists Paul Bollenback, Dave Stryker and Henry Johnson, drummers Alvin Atkinson, Matt Wilson, Charli Persip and Winard Harper, saxophonists Kris Allen, Claire Daly, Mike DiRubbo, Wayne Escoffery, vocalists Sheila Jordan, Carla Cook, and many more. See the complete faculty listings at litchfieldjazzcamp.com.
Jazz camp students (these kids can play) are performing at Doc’s Trattoria Aug. 3, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Aug. 6, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The latter event serves as the opening night gala’s After Party & Jam Session, featuring, and led by, the Andrew Hadro Quartet.
Students will also be performing at Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant Aug. 4, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Aug. 7, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. as a festival After Party & Jam Session, featuring, and led by, the Albert Rivera Quartet.
In addition, students are to perform Saturday, July 31, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., outside the Kent Memorial Library, and from 2 to 3 p.m. at Richard J. Lindsey, Bookseller.
These free concerts lead seamlessly into a Litchfield Jazz Festival’s whose lineup features Arturo O’Farrill, Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer, an All-Star Cannonball Adderley Tribute, Mr. Pavone, Anat Cohen, Jimmy Greene and many others.
Don’t overlook opening night, when the Friends of the Festival Gala kicks things off, from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m., at The Morrison Gallery, and the opening night concerts at Kent School follow, from 7:45 to 10:15. In addition to featuing the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the festival will introduce vocalist Denise Thimes, performing with Matt Wilson on drums, Avery Sharpe on bass, Albert Rivera on saxophone and Chris Grasso on piano.
Ticket-holders will also enjoy crafts, art, local cuisine, performances by Litchfield Jazz Camp students, free music clinics, artist talks and after-hours jam sessions. Tickets start at $29, and children under 12 are admitted free on the lawn. Parking is free. For tickets and festival information, visit the Web site at www.litchfieldjazzfest.com or call 860-361-6285.