BeanTown Jazz Festival 2011

by Liz Burg

  Keyboardist Bernie Worrell, a founding member of Parliment-Funkadelic, performs with Assistant Professor Lennie Stallworth (center) and the student musicians of the Berklee P-Funk Ensemble.
  Phil Farnsworth
  Nearly 45,000 people filled Columbus Avenue and adjoining parks for the 2011 edition of the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival.
  Phil Farnsworth

It's hard to believe that the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival is already one year into its second decade. Despite weather forecasters' calls for heavy showers and a thick covering of clouds, September 24 unfolded without a drop of rain, which allowed the outdoor celebrations to go off without a hitch.

What's become known around town as "Boston's biggest block party" featured 19 performances by acclaimed local and international artists, including r&b powerhouse Oleta Adams, hard-bop drummer Louis Hayes, rising hip-hop sensation (and recent Berklee graduate) Shea Rose, and founding member of the Parliament-Funkadelic Bernie Worrell. Kids (as well as the young at heart) unleashed their inner musician at the Natixis Global Asset Management Family Park through hands-on experiences at the "instrument petting zoo" and the Berklee-staffed KidsJam area. Boston's own Brazilian drumming group, Bloco AfroBrazil, kept the heartbeat of the festival going as the band marched from one end of the festival grounds to the other intermittently throughout the day.

As if the free outdoor celebration weren't enough, this year's BeanTown festival opened and closed with performances by jazz supergroup James Farm and the four-mallet master vibist Gary Burton at the Berklee Performance Center. Both performances received rave reviews from local music journalists. Now, on to planning BeanTown 2012 . . .

Liz Burg is a publicist in Berklee's Media Relations Department