Yes! Twin Cities Jazz Festival Returns, June 24-27

Featured Festivals TCJF Twin Cities
JazzMN Orchestra performs in the new Belvedere at Crooners on the final day of the festival, June 27

2020 was filled with empty stages, indoors and out. Jazz artists and jazz fans started 2021 with dim prospects for gigs and festivals as venues remained closed. Yet Crooners Lounge persisted, and with some significant renovations, brought back live music with safety precautions in place, and by May brought us the welcome news that they would host a modified Twin Cities Jazz Festival, offering both live streaming and in-person music across three stages, June 25-27, with an additional night of live streaming from The Dakota on June 24. Performers include Kurt Elling, Jerry Bergonzi, JazzMN Orchestra with Ricky Peterson and Bob Mintzer, Jamecia Bennett, Ashley Dubose, Jazz Women All Stars, and Andrew Walesch, as well as a jazz piano showcase hosted by perennial festival favorite Jon Weber, who also teams up with vocalists Connie Evingson and Dennis Spears. Live Streamed shows are all free; tickets required for shows at Crooners in the outdoor tent (Belvedere), main stage, and Dunsmore Room. Youth artists will also provide free sets on the Main Stage to kickoff music on Sunday.

Once again, TCJF is sponsored by AARP Minnesota and Summit Brewery.

June 24

The Dakota (Live Stream Only)

Ashley Dubose

Ashley Dubose. A Twin Cities native, vocalist Ashley was inspired early on by pop stars Brittany Spears and Destiny’s Child. She earned her college degree in Mathematics, but she has followed her muse with hit single “Intoxicated”, participating in season 5 of The Voice, releasing the album Something More in 2012, and following in 2015 with Be You. In 2014, City Pages named her Best Female Vocalist. In addition to parenting, writing and performing music, Ashley has served as an instructor for the Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project, a music program designed to empower youth through music and the arts. Ashley is also an on-camera talent and voice-over actor.

June 25 (Crooners Supper Club)

Jazz Women All Stars

Belvedere Outdoor Stage
6:00 -7:15.  Jazz Women All-Stars. Founded by Patty Peterson and first performing at the 2016 TJCF, the Jazz Women All-Stars has had a somewhat liquid cast of top women jazzers from the region, and always featuring top area vocalists. Leader Patty Peterson of Minnesota’s First Family of Music has enjoyed a long career as a popular jazz vocalist, recording artist and radio personality. She’s joined tonight on vocals by two more veteran Twin Cities vocalists, sister Linda Peterson and Ginger Commodore.  Linda, who splits her time between Minnesota and southern California, is widely known for her keyboard and composition skills as well as voice. Ginger leads her GCQ quartet and has appeared on many area stages in musical productions. Instrumental support is provided by acclaimed pianist and recording artist Mary Louise Knutson (Mary Louise Knutson Trio, JazzMN Orchestra, Doc Severinsen Band); bassist and Brazilian guitar specialist, composer and university professor Joan Griffith (Alma Brasiliera, Laura Caviani, Lucia Newell, Minnesota Orchestra), powerhouse drummer Jendeen Forberg (founding member of the Wolverines), and one of the hottest tenor saxophonist in the Midwest, Sue Orfield (Sue Orfield Band, Tiptons).

Andrew Walesch

7:45 -9:00 Andrew Walesch Plus Nine Plays Cole Porter. Not only is Andrew Walesch one of the most in-demand pianist/vocalists in the region, he also serves as music director and booking agent for Crooners. His salutes to Frank Sinatra with his big band and Plus Nine have sold out shows from Crooners to Chanhassan Dinner Theater to The Dakota. Tonight he tackles Cole Porter with his feisty Plus Nine ensemble.

Jerry Bergonzi

Crooners Main Stage
7:00 -8:30 Jerry Bergonzi Quartet. World renowned tenor saxophonist returns to Crooners after stellar performances in 2019. One-time saxman for Dave Brubeck, Bergonzi teaches at the New England Conservatory when not touring the world or in the recording studio. He’s joined by all star drummer Adam Nussbaum and two young lions, local heroes Will Kjeer on piano and Charlie Lincoln on bass.

Saturday, June 26 (Crooners Supper Club)

Crooners Main Stage

Jamecia Bennett

6:00 pm, Jamecia Bennett: The Evolution of Jazz and Blues. Jamecia Bennett is a national recording artist, drummer, producer, songwriter and new lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness. As an actress she appeared in the Tony Award winning show Caroline or Change, directed The Night Before Christmas at the Guthrie, and has also directed or performed at Penumbra Theater, Ordway, Mixed Blood, Park Square, Capri Theaters and many more, and received a NAACP Image Awards for Best World music.

Dunsmore Room

Jon Weber

6:00 pm, The Jazz Piano Showcase Hosted by Jon Weber, featuring Dale Alexander, Thomas West, Laura Caviani, Will Kjeer, Kavyesh Kaviraj. Since his first appearance at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in 2004, New York based pianist Jon Weber has been a popular fixture, both in leading his own ensembles and hosting a jazz piano showcase. In addition to his piantistic skills, Weber is well known for his ability to cite biographical facts about most any artist, and to transpose classics in any key and any style. His guests tonight include local stars across generations: Dale Alexander (Prince, Andre Cymone), Thomas West (Shirley Witherspoon, Lila Ammons), Laura Caviani (Laura Caviani Trio, X-Tet, Joan Griffith, Lucia Newell), Will Kjeer (Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead, Hoaxer, Steve Kenny’s Group 47, Dave King), and Kavyesh Kaviraj (Mississippi, Kevin Washington, Jay Young).

Belvedere Outdoor Stage

Kurt Elling

7:30 pm, Kurt Elling. Arguably the greatest jazz singer of his generation, Kurt Elling’s use of scat and vocalese, his original lyrics for such masterpieces as Coltrane’s “Revelation,” and his interpretations of such great instrumental works as Dexter Gordon’s sax solo on “Body and Soul” have put him at the creative apogee of modern jazz artists. The two-time Grammy winner has received an unprecedented 15 nominations and is a perennial winner in readers and critics polls (Downbeat, Jazz Times, etc). Elling has frequently appeared at The Dakota; this will be his Crooners debut.

Sunday, June 27 (Crooners Supper Club)

Dakota Combo Trio (2019 Winter Jazz Fest)

Crooners Main Stage
3:30 pm, Youth Bands (free). The Twin Cities is home to some of the top young jazz musicians in the country, many who got their start with such organizations as Walker West, MacPhail Center for Music, the Dakota Combo, and extraordinary middle and high school jazz programs. TCJF has a long history of presenting these stars of tomorrow.

Jon Weber and Connie Evingson

7:00 pm, Connie Evingson and Jon Weber Featuring Dennis Spears . Two of the region’s premiere vocalists join forces with pianist Jon Weber. Connie Evingson has paired with Weber for a number of years now, ever since sharing the stage at the Artists Quarter during TCJF. Since, they have brought the Great American Songbook to life on the Jungle Theater Stage and at Crooners, as well as appearing again and again during TCJF. Hibbing native Connie is a prolific recording artist, from jazz classics to hot club swing to the songs of Dave Frishberg, The Beatles, and Brazilian samba. Like Connie, Dennis Spears is a founding member of Moore by Four and a veteran of local stages as well as clubs and concert halls. He’s served as Artistic Director for The Capri Theater and is a 2013 inductee in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

Belvedere  Outdoor Stage
4:00 pm, Jerry Bergonzi Quartet. (See Friday Night)

Bob Mintzer with Mary Louise Knutson (JazzMN Orchestra)

6:00 pm, JazzMN Orchestra with Ricky Peterson and Bob Mintzer. The Jazz MN Orchestra has served as the premiere jazz big band in the region since its founding in 1998. Led for many years by Doug Snapp, the orchestra is now directed by acclaimed trombonist JC Sanford, and features the best area jazzers. Their guests tonight include keyboard monster, composer and producer Ricky Peterson (Prince, David Sanborn, Peterson Family) and legendary tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets), a past featured artist of JazzMN.

For ticket and live streaming information, visit the Crooners website at www.croonersloungemn.com.  Crooners is located at 6500 Hwy 65, just off I-694 and 35W, in Fridley, MN.