The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival – Boston’s biggest block party – takes place on Saturday, September 28, from noon to 6 p.m. on Columbus Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Burke Street in Boston’s South End. The outdoor performances are open to the public free of charge. Highlights include Meshell Ndegeocello; Will Calhoun Trio, led by the Grammy Award-winning alumnus and drummer of the band Living Colour; and Robin McKelle & the Flytones.
This year, the festival celebrates the theme Jazz: The Next Generation, with performances by some of the genre’s most acclaimed up-and-coming alumni artists, including Grammy- nominated trumpeter Christian Scott; Mike Tucker Trio featuring vibraphonist Warren Wolf; and the Matt Savage Quartet featuring sax great Bobby Watson.
Faculty and students also play a major role, with performances by faculty artists Lawrence “Larry” Watson & the Workforce, The Bell Affair, Matt Jenson & the Liquid Revolution, and Rick DiMuzio Quintet; and students including Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors featuring Adam Cruz, Jazz Revelation Records artist the Simon Moullier Quartet, Giorgi Mikadze Group, the Berklee P-Funk Ensemble and the Berklee City Music All Stars Big Band Jazz Ensemble. Street performers Marcus Santos & Bloco AfroBrazil will perform throughout the afternoon.
Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival also presents ticketed concerts during the weekend of the festival:
On Friday, September 27, and Saturday, September 28, Gary Burton’s 70th Birthday Tour stops at Scullers Jazz Club for performances at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night by the New Gary Burton Quartet featuring Julian Lage, Scott Colley, and Antonio Sanchez. Visit ScullersJazz.com for more information.
On Sunday, September 29, instrumental jazz, funk, and world music collective Snarky Puppy perform at the Berklee Performance Center at 8:00 pm. Visit Berklee.edu/bpc for more information.
Berklee College of Music, for the fourth year, is the proud recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival and its theme. In awarding the prestigious Art Works grant to Berklee, the NEA cited the festival as a celebration of Boston’s diversity as reflected in the attendees, music, food, and crafts. An educational program about the importance of mentorship in jazz is being planned.
The Natixis Family Park will transform Carter Playground on Columbus Avenue with activities including inflatables, face painting, and an instrument petting zoo staffed by Berklee professionals. The park also hosts KidsJam, an interactive program led by Berklee’s Music Education department, introducing young children to a variety of musical activities, including singing and sound exploration, playing rhythm instruments, and creating, listening, and responding to music.
The outdoor celebration also features a variety of vendor booths offering foods and crafts from all over the world.
Discover Roxbury's High Notes of Jazz Roxbury Walk is offering tours throughout the day for a nominal fee, exploring the area around the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival. The site was once the epicenter of music, food, and nightlife for Boston's jazz community during the 1930s through 1950s. Tours will organize from the Discover Roxbury booth at the festival.