Head to downtown Iowa City for a three-day weekend of live jazz performances, delicious dishes, and activities for the kiddos—and cap off the weekend with a full-blown fireworks display over the University of Iowa Pentacrest. Bring your blanket or a chair, and soak up this phenomenal jazz extravaganza. For free!
The annual festival features four stages, showcasing a variety of well-known jazz musicians and up-and-coming local talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages.
The lineup this year is beyond stellar, but here are a few highlights from the list of acclaimed musicians on the Main Stage.
Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
Five-time Juno Award winner, Jane Bunnett has turned her bands and recordings into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the U.S., and Cuba. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, received the Order of Canada, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and, most recently, the Premier’s Award for Excellence. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous jazz festivals, displaying her versatility as a flutist, saxophone player, and pianist.
Danilo Pérez Trio with special guest Chris Potter
As a solo artist and as a collaborator with Jazz giants, Danilo Pérez is one of the most creative pianists-composers on the scene. His music is a blend of Panamanian roots with elements of Latin American folk music, jazz, European impressionism, and African and other musical heritages that promote music as a multidimensional bridge between people. Since 1993 Pérez has released 12 albums which have earned him critical acclaim, numerous accolades, Grammy Awards wins and several nominations.
The Danilo Pérez Trio, featuring Ben Street and Adam Cruz, has been playing together since 2003. All about Jazz critic John Kelman wrote, “Pérez proves that longevity clearly cultivates a deeper sense of interplay and a more intuitive sense of oneness.”
The Danilo Pérez Trio will be joined by Chris Potter, “one of the most studied (and copied) saxophonists on the planet” (DownBeat).
Craig Taborn Daylight Ghosts Quartet
Along with the questing Taborn on piano and electronic keyboards, the quartet of Daylight Ghosts features two other luminaries from the New York scene – reed player Chris Speed and bassist Chris Lightcap – plus drummer Dave King, the leader’s fellow Minnesota native and one-third of alt-jazz trio The Bad Plus. Each player draws from a broad artistic background, as informed by rock, electronica and diverse strains of world music as they are the various permutations of jazz improvisation.
Ryan Keberle’s Catharsis
Led by Ryan Keberle, #1 Rising Star Trombonist in the Downbeat International Critics Poll, Catharsis has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times for its “potent blend of cinematic sweep and lush, ear-grabbing melodies.” The highly acclaimed piano-less group brings together elements of chamber music, South American folk, and indie rock within a traditional jazz framework, resulting in a sound that has thrilled audiences across the globe for close to a decade.
In Catharsis, the potent frontline rapport of Keberle and saxophonist Scott Robinson and the unshakable rhythm of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Eric Doob combine in a sound full of drama and intrigue. The guitar and vocals of Camila Meza have also come to shape the band’s chemistry and unmistakable ensemble sound.
The Bad Plus
Head to the Mill for Sunday evening performances by a true jazz gem. Since its outset, iconic trio the Bad Plus has dared to be different, challenging all preconceived notions of jazz. Through a provocative style of arrangements and compositions they call “avant-garde populism,” their unique blend of influences, ranging from experimental jazz, indie rock, pop, and classical music has earned this “audacious, rule-breaking jazz trio” (Billboard) a reputation as one of the most universally well-respected bands in jazz today.
2018 heralded a new and exciting chapter for the band consisting of founding members Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (drums) and new member Orrin Evans (piano): a group of passionate collaborators with no single leader. Never Stop II is the first full-length release from this lineup, comprised entirely of original music with each member contributing fresh compositions. The New York Times calls it “an exhilarating document” that sparks an exciting new journey for the iconic group.
The full Iowa City Jazz Festival schedule is as follows:
July 5, 2019
5:30 pm Lincoln’s Way @ College Stage
5:30 pm Corridor Quintet @ Youth Stage
5:30 pm Big Fun @ Local Stage
6:00 pm The Nayo Jones Experience @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
7:30 pm Lincoln’s Way @ College Stage
7:30 pm Corridor Quintet @ Youth Stage
7:30 pm Big Fun @ Local Stage
8:00 pm Jane Bunnett and Maqueque @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
9:30 pm City of Iowa City Fireworks @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
10:30 pm Thumbscrew @ The Mill
July 6, 2019
11:30 am United Jazz Ensemble @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
12:30 pm North Corridor Jazz All Stars @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
1:30 pm Silver Swing Band @ Youth Stage
1:30 pm Jarrett Purdy Project @ College Stage
1:30 pm Saul Lubaroff Quartet @ Local Stage
2:00 pm Sasha Berliner @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
3:30 pm Silver Swing Band @ Youth Stage
3:30 pm Jarrett Purdy Project @ College Stage
3:30 pm Saul Lubaroff Quartet @ Local Stage
4:00 pm Ryan Keberle’s Catharsis @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
5:30 pm August McKinney Quintet @ Youth Stage
5:30 pm The Perrilles Project @ College Stage
5:30 pm Joey Schnoebelen Quintet @ Local Stage
6:00 pm Craig Taborn Daylight Ghosts Quartet @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
7:30 pm August McKinney Quintet @ Youth Stage
7:30 pm The Perrilles Project @ College Stage
7:30 pm Joey Schnoebelen Quintet @ Local Stage
8:00 pm Danilo Perez Trio WITH SPECIAL GUEST Chris Potter @ Main Stage – Iowa City Jazz Festival
July 7, 2019
12:00 pm The George Jazz Group @ Ped Mall
1:00 pm The Blake Shaw Big(ish) Band @ Ped Mall
2:00 pm The Dick Watson Trio, Plus @ Ped Mall
3:00 pm Brick Street Ramblers @ Ped Mall
4:00 pm Ritmocano @ Ped Mall
5:00 pm The Bad Plus* @ The Mill
9:00 pm The Bad Plus* @ The Mill
For info about the artists, parking, public transportation, accommodations, and more, visit SummeroftheArts.org.
* Tickets for the Bad Plus are $15. All other performances are free.