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The 2016 Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival

2015 Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival, Berklee stage. Photo by Erin X. Smithers

The 2016 Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The theme of this year’s festival is “Jazz: A Peace Supreme”. 

Berklee President Roger H. Brown, mayor Marty Walsh, Eric Jackson, and Larry Simpson, Berklee senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Berklee President Roger H. Brown, mayor Marty Walsh, Eric Jackson, and Larry Simpson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival has become a major cultural landmark in Boston, offering attendees “the sort of hard choices people have to make at Newport and other top festivals,” according to the Boston Globe. The festival was founded by Darryl Settles, owner of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen and president of D’Ventures Limited, and has been produced by Berklee since 2007.

The festival kicks off on Friday, September 23 with Grammy-winning guitarist and Berklee alumnus John Scofield ’73 performing music from his new album, Country for Old Men, which is set for release that day on Impulse!/Verve. Produced by Scofield and featuring Steve Swallow, Larry Goldings, and Bill Stewart, Country for Old Men sculpts jazz renditions of classic tunes by George Jones, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, and Shania Twain. The concert takes place at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC). For tickets, visit the Beantown Jazz Festival page on

The main event, Beantown’s all-day, outdoor festival, takes place on Saturday, September 24 from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Columbus Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Burke Street in Boston’s historic South End. Curated by multi-Grammy Award–winning drummer, composer, and Berklee professor Terri Lyne Carrington ’83, the event features three stages and performances from more than 17 artists. The outdoor festival, which has drawn as many as 80,000 music fans, is open to the public free of charge. Check Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival for updates and a full schedule of events.

Top acts on the outdoor stages include seven-time Grammy-winning singer Al Jarreau Tribute Band; legendary drummer Billy Hart and his trio featuring pianist Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus and bassist Ben Street; Pitch Slapped, one of the world’s premier a cappella groups; and Behind These Eyes (B.T.E.), a contemporary pop jazz ensemble featuring the original songs, lyrics, and arrangements of former Berklee professor Hal Crook ’71, sung by acclaimed vocalist Débo Ray ’13.

Berklee students and faculty also play a major role in the festival with performances from the Mili Bermejo Sextet, the Laszlo Gardony Sextet, the Mark Zaleski Band, the Ricardo Monzón Orchestra, Dan Moretti and the Hammond Boys, Lenny Stallworth and Black Steel, Mark Shilansky and Fugue Mill, Kaovanny and Vibe Collective, the Kevin Harris Project, Edmar Colón Quartet7th Degree, Self Portraits, and the Venezuelan Project.

Berklee Stage

Kaovanny and Vibe Collective (12 PM), The Laszlo Gardony Sextet (12:45 pm), Billy Hart Trio (1:45pm), The Mark Zaleski Band (2:45pm), The Kevin Harris Project (3:45pm), Behind These Eyes Plays the Music of Hal Crook (5pm)

Beantown Stage

Venezuelan Project (12:00 pm), Mark Shilansky and Fugue Mill (1pm), Self Portraits (2pm), 7th Degree (3pm), The Ricardo Monzon Orchestra (4pm), Edmar Colón Quartet (5pm)

Capital One Stage

Mili Bermejo Sextet (1pm), Dan Moretti and the Hammond Boys (2pm), Lenny Stallworth and Black Steel (3pm), Pitch Slapped (4pm), Al Jarreau Tribute Band(5pm)

The outdoor celebration will feature a Marcus Santos’ Brazillian Drum Group and variety of vendor booths offering foods and crafts from all over the world. Also returning to the festival is KidsJam, an interactive program led by Berklee’s Music Education Department that introduces young children to a variety of musical activities, including singing and sound exploration, playing rhythm instruments, and creating, listening, and responding to music.

A second ticketed event, Beantown Afterglow, will feature the 10th anniversary of trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s Triveni, with Ben Street on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums, on September 28 at Cafe 939. The concert is part of The CheckoutLive at Berklee, a collaboration between WBGO-FM and Berklee.

Photo by Erin X. Smithers

For the seventh year, Berklee is the proud recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the 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. The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival is Boston’s biggest block party—a free, annual, outdoor public concert that has delighted hundreds of thousands of music lovers over the years with its host of jazz, Latin, blues, funk, and groove performances, along with KidsJam, an instrument petting zoo, and an array of food vendors.

Each year, the festival is the place to be in Boston on the last Saturday of September as the community comes together in a bond forged in the joy of great live music. Each year, Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival draws many of the most innovative and exciting performers to the festival’s three stages. Past festival performers have included Gary Burton, Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello, Danilo Perez, and Snarky Puppy, to name just a few. The festival offers world-class music on three stages, phenomenal food and drink, arts, crafts, and unique gifts. (Nick Balkin/ Berklee)
Take a watch/listen to Eric Jackson’s interview with Terri Lyne Carrington from WGBH 24/7.
Here are some photos from the 2014 and 2015 The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival

Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival (Street Festival Location)
Columbus Ave between Mass Ave and Burke Street, Boston, MA 02118

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