September 27: Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management
On September 27, music lovers of all ages will gather for the 14th annual Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston's historic South End, home to several legendary clubs during Boston's jazz heyday. The all-day, free outdoor event will offer contemporary jazz, funk, Latin, pop, and soul acts on three stages. Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM), one of the world's leading asset managers, is the presenting sponsor of the festival and will present a $5,000 scholarship to a student musician. Past Berklee Beantown Jazz Festivals have drawn as many as 80,000 music fans.
The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival—Boston's biggest block party—takes place on Saturday, September 27, 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. This year, the festival celebrates the theme Jazz: the Global Ambassador. Check beantownjazz.org for updates and a full schedule of events.
Highlights include Grammy-nominated singer/percussionist and former Prince collaborator Sheila E., who will be backed by a Berklee student band; jazz-funk collective Snarky Puppy; alto saxophonist, MacArthur "genius" fellow, and Berklee alumnus Miguel Zenón; Grammy-winning vocalist Dionne Farris, formerly of the alternative hip-hop group Arrested Development, with the Russell Gunn Quartet; and rising jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.
Faculty and alumni also play a major role, with performances by faculty artists, including Bill Banfield's the Jazz Urbane with special guest Grace Kelly; the Yoron Israel/Bill Pierce Quintet; the Screaming Headless Torsos, led by David Fiuczynski; and Marco Pignataro Jazzet featuring Eddie Gomez; as well as alumni acts such as Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio, and Aubrey Logan.
"We have seen how important music and the arts are to fostering cultural exchange, so I am happy that our theme this year is Jazz: the Global Ambassador," said Terri Lyne Carrington, Grammy Award-winning drummer, composer, Berklee professor, and artistic director for the festival. "Creative music expression affects the universal rhythm of life and is a profound tool in aiding our global society."
"The Beantown Jazz Festival provides the city of Boston with amazing access to world-class performers, many of whom got a start here in Boston," said John Hailer, president and chief executive officer, Natixis Global Asset Management for the Americas and Asia. "Music and culture should be a shared experience in our communities, not locked away in a museum or concert hall. We're proud to be a part of the festival and to continue our annual scholarship program."
This year, Natixis Global Asset Management launched the 2014 Jazz Diplomacy Project, which includes a series of more than 200 events celebrating jazz and bringing together thought leaders to explore solutions to challenges facing the world today. As part of the Jazz Diplomacy Project, Natixis has provided support to the Foundation for the National Archives and the Newport Festivals Foundation. Natixis was also presenting sponsor at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival.
"Our hope is to encourage more people to become jazz ambassadors by sharing the history of jazz and exploring the lessons the world has learned through the genre," added Hailer. "Beantown's global ambassador theme and ideals of using music as a tool for peace, intercultural dialogue, social change, and democracy tie in nicely to our year-long Jazz Diplomacy effort."
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 from the 1930s through the 1950s. Tours will organize from the Discover Roxbury booth at the festival.
Berklee College of Music, for the fifth 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.