Just over three decades ago, the first Iowa City Jazz Festival featured six performances.
In 2022, that number nearly tripled in three days, complete with artist vendors, food, and fireworks.
The The Iowa City Jazz Festival returns Fridayfeaturing performances from Grammy-winning artists, respected music teachers, and popular local artists, all to bring the improvisational musical genre to the streets of downtown.
Singer-songwriter Kurt Elling will take the stage with guitarist and composer Charlie Hunter on Saturday night, while a locally formed quintet will bring Latin American tunes to the crowd on Sunday afternoon.
Here are five performances to discover during the three days of the festival.
Camille Thurman with the Darrell Green Quartet
Originally from New York, Camille Thurman is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer who became the first woman in 30 years to tour and perform full-time with the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
The musician has shared the stage with Buster Williams, Patti LaBelle, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu and many more.
The tenor saxophonist told the Press-Citizen in an email that she previously traveled to Iowa to perform at Hancher Auditorium with Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Thurman plays the bass clarinet, flute and piccolo. She credits composer and saxophonist Dexter Gordon as the “greatest” source of inspiration for playing the instrument.
Thurman said she tried playing alto saxophone and loved it, but was asked to play tenor sax at a neighborhood jazz camp. She would receive a scholarship for the program if she accepted, which her mother encouraged.
“I was mortified because I was a little person and the image of me carrying a big tenor saxophone case was kind of scary,” she said. “I knew I was going to be made fun of by the students. All I could think of was that the instrument was big, bulky, loud and bassy, just the opposite of what I liked about the viola. I have never seen a woman play the instrument either. I didn’t know or see any artist I could identify with at that young age.
Thurman attended a listening class and was introduced to Gordon. She said her “imagination and improvisation” rid her of her insecurities about playing the instrument.
She said when she heard Gordon, she heard someone with “confidence, wit, sophistication (and) freedom.
“I wanted to figure out what that sound was and be 10 feet tall with my horn on like Dexter,” she said.
Thurman went on to be a two-time ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award winner, recipient of a Fulbright Scholars Cultural Ambassador Scholarship, and released several full-length albums.
When: Sunday at 1 p.m.
Where: main stage
The Mina Jazz Quintet
The Mina Jazz Quintet has a goal in mind. The five-piece band wants to show the public that there are more Brazilian music styles than the popular Bossa Nova genre.
“We said, ‘Oh, there’s so much more interesting music from Brazil that people would really like to listen to and learn a bit more about the culture and all the styles that we have,’ Rayne Dias told Press-Citizen. .
At the time, the quintet was just a duo looking for two more to explore more genres of music from Brazil. Dias, who plays piano and accordion, said he decided his repertoire would represent a bit of each region of the country.
The previous bassist left the band. Today, the Mina Jazz Quintet is made up of Gabriel Sánchez Porras on saxophonemulti-instrumentalist Robert Espe, Askar Khaetov on bass and Ryan Smith on drums and percussion.
They all knew each other through their ties to the University of Iowa.
The Mina Jazz Quintet is a reference to Minas Gerais, a state in southeastern Brazil where Dias is from.
At the Iowa City Jazz Festival, Dias said the quintet would love to see the audience dance.
“The most important thing about Brazilian music is that it’s not just music to listen to, it’s music to dance most of the time,” he said.
When: Sunday noon
Where: local scene
The Molly Miller Trio
Guitarist Molly Miller’s first band was with her five siblings, her parents forming a family band and awarding her the instrument she would go on to make a career out of.
Miller told the Press-Citizen that for seven years his family got together and rehearsed for a few hours a day and played music from Jimi Hendrix’s top 40 hits, performing at local street fairs and private parties.
At age 14, when the family band was no more, Miller sought out his own playing opportunities, including jazz and garage bands.
At 16, she started getting serious as a musician, she said.
The trio, usually made up of Jennifer Condos on bass and Jay Bellerose on drums, will feature Steve Hass on drums this weekend. Bellerose will be on the road performing.
The trio formed about eight years ago when Miller had a gig and needed a bassist. She called on Condos for help, and the duo were rehearsing music when Bellerose joined.
Miller said the three were all on the same page, and Condos encouraged them to continue recording.
“I feel like during that time it was like, ‘We’re a band,’ and we just shared a vision of music and friendship,” she said.
Although she performed at famous venues like the Royal Albert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, Miller said some of the most powerful moments of her career have been smaller shows, reminiscent of an outdoor performance with her brother. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel like I was very lucky to have so many amazing opportunities,” she said. “And I always say, if I play music that inspires me with musicians that inspire me, I’m happy and I feel really lucky to be able to do that.”
Miller described the trio’s sound as “driven by melody and storytelling”. If they take their musical sense seriously, they have fun too.
“I played a gig the other night with a couple of my friends and my cheeks were hurting at the end of the night because I was smiling so much,” she said. “That’s really the goal for me and of course for the audience to feel some of that joy that I feel when I play.”
When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
Where: main stage
The Dan Padley Quartet
If you’ve seen live music in the Iowa City area, you’ve probably heard Dan Padley on guitar.
That’s because the guitarist and songwriter is a frequent collaborator and performer on the eastern Iowa music scene.
He and Purdy are working on a full-length ambient jazz record partly funded by the Iowa Arts Council which is slated for release July 8.
Padley picked up the guitar at age 12. He told the Press-Citizen that his best friend’s father and his uncle in Cedar Rapids both played guitar. Padley’s uncle gave him informal lessons and answered his questions as he began to learn.
Padley attended UI over a decade ago and studied music. It was there that he met Shaw, a bassist, who also played in the quartet alongside Nolan Schroeder on saxophone and Christopher Jensen on drums.
“I’ve also played with more songwriters in recent years. I think it opened my ears to appreciate this kind of music in a different way that maybe I didn’t appreciate before,” he said.
When: Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: local scene
Kurt Elling with Charlie Hunter
Kurt Elling is a two-time Grammy Award winner and jazz singer whose career spans more than two decades and has seen him perform with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra and more.
The Chicago-born singer and songwriter collaborated with guitarist and former Blue Note labelmate Charlie Hunter to release “SuperBlue.”
Elling told KNKX Public Radio in January that the album was different from past projects, and a long-awaited collaboration between thim two.
The result is a groovy and funky 10-track album that still captures Elling’s four-octave range and rich baritone.
When: Saturday at 8 p.m.
Where: main stage
Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle and the arts at Iowa City Press-Citizen. Contact her at [email protected] or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.