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MONTCLAIR JAZZ FEST Announces Summer Artists + Events


MONTCLAIR JAZZ FESTIVAL Announces 2023 Artists + Events for Opening Concerts

August 12 Block Party Features Endea Owens & the Cookout, DJ Brother Mister + more, leading up to the Downtown Jamboree, Sept. 9

[MONTCLAIR, NJ, August 29, 2023] The award-winning Montclair Jazz Festival returns bigger and better than ever before. Presented by BDP Holdings, LLC and produced by acclaimed nonprofit JAZZ HOUSE KiDS now celebrating its 20th anniversary, it is the largest free jazz festival in the NYC region. Together with the County of Essex, Montclair Township, Montclair Center BID, and a host of corporate sponsors, local businesses and individual patrons, the 14th annual returns to downtown Montclair, New Jersey, kicking off with two indoor Soundcheck concerts + jam sessions, followed by a series of community events, and two marquee day-long Saturdays brimming with live music on multiple stages – 50 acts, 250 artists, family jazz activities and 200 vendors with an expected 25,000 music fans and thousands more online. Continuing its tradition of honoring jazz legends, this year the Montclair Jazz Festival will celebrate Dexter Gordon's centennial by featuring his music with a performance by the JAZZ HOUSE Collective and the work of visual artist Andres Chaparro as the face of the festival. Transforming the vibrant, arts-rich urban suburb into an inclusive, family-friendly music destination hotspot, Montclair Jazz Fest officially kicks off by showcasing JAZZ HOUSE KiDS’ mission in action at the Block Party on August 12, with 10 hours of live music at Lackawanna Plaza. The festivities begin with 150 Jazz House emerging musicians performing in seven big bands and a vocal choir. The young performers are followed by a set from jazz guitarist Charlie Sigler and his band opening for one of jazz’s most vibrant artists on the scene today, Endea Owens & the Cookout. After a day of live jazz, fans get on their feet for the return of the hottest, hippest funk & soul party of the summer, DJ Brother Mister, aka Christian McBride, Dance Party. The festival culminates on September 9 with the Downtown Jamboree grand finale boasting five stages stretching down half a mile of Bloomfield Avenue from Lackawanna Plaza to Fullerton Avenue. Sprinkled in between the two big dates are special community partner events to be announced and the Soundcheck Series on July 27 and August 24. Held in the Jazz House Annex, the second floor of the organization’s hub in downtown Montclair, the July date features a set from versatile saxophone stylist and Jazz House teaching artist Bruce Williams and his band, with a student ensemble opening act and two-hour jam session. August 24 welcomes dynamic drummer and Jazz House Teaching Artist + Associate Director of Jazz Education and Performance, Dr. Darrell Smith and his band.Montclair Jazz Fest is pleased to announce the return of developer BDP Holdings, LLC, as the presenting sponsor. David Placek, Managing Partner of BDP, and his wife, Bridget Placek, are dedicated supporters of many community-based nonprofits in Montclair. David Placek also serves on the Board of Directors of the Jazz House.

My wife Bridget and I, as well as the entire team at BDP Holdings are thrilled to be the presenting sponsors of the Montclair Jazz Festival, bringing one of the most incredible annual events back to downtown Montclair and Lackawanna Plaza for the third year. We can’t wait to welcome thousands of music fans and some incredible international jazz talent to our town. The jazz festival and its producer Jazz House Kids reflect the values, equity, and diversity of the Montclair community, the same values that are core to BDP’s mission. This is reflected in all our projects, including the redevelopment of Lackawanna Plaza, an iconic town treasure. As Montclair residents who are raising our family here, as well as business owners, we celebrate what brings us together as a community.

David Placek, Managing Partner of BDP Holdings, LLC Presenting sponsor of Montclair Jazz Festival

Melissa Walker, president + founder + 2022 Montclair Jazz Fest headliner + Jazz House alumni Mathew Whitaker with David and Bridget Placek

Block Party + DJ Brother Mister

August 12 | 12:00 - 10:00 pm (rain date 8/13) On Saturday, August 12, the Montclair Jazz Fest heats up for an all-day Block Party in Lackawanna Plaza, a not-to-be-missed "mini-fest" double header: swinging live jazz from noon to 8:00 pm, followed by one of the largest funk & soul street dance parties Montclair has ever seen. Starting at 12 noon, ensemble performances on the Lackawanna stage will feature 150 talented emerging musicians from five states and three continents taking part in the Jazz House Summer Workshop.

"This year’s Block Party is the culminating performance for Jazz House Summer Workshop students, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase this amazing group of young talent to family, friends and our entire community. The experience of playing in front of thousands, and sharing the same stage as their instructor Charlie Sigler and the incredible Endea Owens with her one-of-a-kind band The Cookout, is one that will stay with them for a lifetime. After two weeks of the intensive Summer Workshop, held on the Montclair State University campus, students will cap their experience and celebrate with a dance party featuring their beloved artistic director, Christian McBride.”

Ted Chubb, Vice President of Arts Education + Associate Producer


As the sun sets, the Montclair Jazz Fest keeps it cooking as bassist and composer Endea Owens takes the stage with her masterful band, The Cookout. As a member of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert house band, Owens has a Montclair connection with local celebrity Steven Colbert. Affectionately known as Bass Bae, she and her entire band – including Jazz House alum Zoe Obadia – are Juilliard School graduates. Since her years at Juilliard, Owens has won an Emmy, GRAMMY and Peabody Award.


Endea Owens and the Cookout: NPR Tiny Desk Concert


At 8:00 pm, chairs get folded and tables pushed aside and Montclair gets its groove on as music fans get on their feet for an incredible, diverse and inter-generational boogie fest – a colossal street dance party – featuring DJ Brother Mister, aka Christian McBride. The Montclair Jazz Festival and Jazz House artistic director and 8-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist is a noted historian of classic R&B, soul and funk. All night long, McBride will be spinning and mixing classic favorites on original analog vinyl from what he considers the “sweet spot” of dance music, the 1960s to 1990s, and often playing along, embellishing the bass line with his masterful skill.


"Classic soul is at the core of my DNA, everything from Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, and of course, my man James Brown who was the inspiration for my DJ name Brother Mister. While the Godfather of Soul always called everyone ‘Mister’, or ‘Brother’ when he got comfortable with you, ‘‘Brother Mister’ was reserved for people he respected. It was a proud moment when he called me ‘Brother Mister’ before the Hollywood Bowl in 2006.”

Christian McBride, Artistic Director



The Block Party features the return of the Family Jazz Discovery Zone for the younger set and their parents, and for all the shoppers and foodies, the Festival Marketplace with 30 local food + artisan vendors. The Dexter Gordon Open Air Lounge with premium seating is reserved for sponsors, Take 5 and Friends of the Festival supporters.


"We, at Montclair Center BID, as collaborating partners of the 2023 Montclair Jazz Festival, are immensely proud to host this extraordinary event in our inclusive and culturally rich downtown. Montclair has rapidly emerged as the premier festival destination in the state, and we are thrilled to showcase our vibrant community and its diverse dining, retail, and arts offerings to jazz enthusiasts from near and far. The festival promises to be an unforgettable celebration of music, culture, and community, and we can't wait to welcome everyone to experience the magic of Montclair Center."

Jason Gleason, Executive Director, Montclair Center BID



Downtown Jamboree

September 9 | 1:00 - 9:00 pm (rain or shine)


Saturday, September 9 marks the flagship event with the Downtown Jamboree in partnership with Essex County and Montclair Township. Fans will gather along an all-pedestrian Bloomfield Avenue, a nearly half-mile long stretch from Fullerton Avenue to Lackawanna Plaza, to celebrate the vibrant and diverse town of Montclair with a jam-packed, exciting day of free, live music. Internationally-acclaimed jazz headliners will perform on two main stages: the BDP Holdings Downtown Stage at Lackawanna Plaza and the Fullerton Uptown Stage. The Jazz Cruise returns as sponsor of the Midtown Alumni Stage, which will feature bands comprising Jazz House alumni and their peers who are making their mark on the music scene today. New this year, Church Street will host the Montclair Jazz Fest Community Stage highlighting many rich community arts partners with dance, music and theater performances. Montclair Jazz Fest is proud to welcome Amazon as the presenting sponsor of the Family Jazz Discovery Zone, with a new location at Wellmont Theater Plaza, where kids and their families can gather to play, improvise, create and learn about jazz with partners Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Library, Montclair YMCA , Riza Printup's 'I Have a Song in my Heart', and a host of other local children's groups.

"We're thrilled to support this wonderful event again this year. At Amazon, we're committed to meaningfully contributing to the communities we operate in and hire from, and the Montclair Jazz Festival has become an important international event that showcases the talent and culture of New Jersey and beyond."

Carley Graham Garcia, Head of Community Affairs for NY and NJ at Amazon

The Downtown Jamboree Marketplace will showcase a rich array of 175 artisan food and craft vendors, along with businesses across the Montclair Center Bloomfield Avenue corridor. New this year, the festival welcomes Rao’s Homemade as presenting sponsor of the Marketplace.

"Rao’s Homemade is thrilled to sponsor the 2023 Montclair Jazz Festival this year. With our Rao’s Homemade brand headquartered in the heart of downtown Montclair, we are truly immersed in the community and dedicated to getting involved and giving back.”

Risa Cretella, Chief Sales Officer at Sovos Brands


A Village of Partnerships


Held in a town that prides itself on diversity and inclusivity, the Montclair Jazz Festival celebrates community building and meaningful connections made possible by supporters who help keep the festival free and open to everyone. Through jazz, Montclair’s own award-winning nonprofit Jazz House Kids serves as a year-round instrument for change by providing access, learning, career development and community building through classes, workshops and performance programs in under-resourced schools, after-school and in the community, serving all children regardless of financial circumstances. Montclair Jazz Festival invites music fans, local businesses and corporate partners to stand up for diversity and inclusion and play it forward by supporting the rich history of jazz and this FREE world-class event. This year, Friends of the Festival, Take 5 VIP Club members and Proud Business Supporters can score exciting new benefits. The ever-growing free jazz is only made possible by the commitment and generosity of many. For more information on how to become a sponsor, supporter, volunteer or vendor, download the new festival app in the Google or Apple store.




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