Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 3
Downtown Iowa City IA
With a lineup that ranges from Grammy and Downbeat Award winners to the Corridor’s top student performers, Summer of the Arts and GreenState Credit Union will present the Iowa City Jazz Festival July 1 through 3, this nationally renowned event returning to downtown Iowa City for its 31st year, and taking place on both the Ped Mall and South Clinton Street.
The fun begins on Friday at 5 p.m. with the Mike Conrad Trio led by Dr. Mike Conrad, trombonist, pianist, composer, and member of the UNI Jazz faculty. Iowa City Jazz Festival founder Steve Grismore performs with organist Corey Kendrick and his quartet at 6:30 p.m., while Hancher Auditorium caps off the Ped Mall Stage evening with two-time Grammy winner Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience at 8 p.m., offering a funky mix of blues, reggae, and zydeco music.
Continuing a Jazz Festival tradition of showcasing student performers on the mainstage, Saturday's concert sets begin at 11:30 a.m. with the United Jazz Ensemble, which has opened the festival for more than 20 years. The UJE is a collective of students from Iowa City High, West High, and Liberty High directed by Aaron Ottmar and Rich Medd, and the day's student focus continues at 12:15 p.m. with the North Corridor All-Stars, a similar ensemble composed of students from Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls as directed by Coe College’s Steve Shanley.
A veteran of jazz festivals, world-renowned drummer Yogev Shetrit and his Trio take the stage at 2 p.m., with Grammy nominee and LetterOne Rising Stars Jazz Award Winner Dan Wilson following at 4 p.m. Shetrit was born in Israel with Moroccan roots, saying that those parts of his identity are influential in the development of his jazz sound, while Wilson, a native of the Midwest, says his guitar playing is inspired by multiple genres ranging from soul to gospel to hip hop.
At 6 p.m., the Iowa City Jazz Festival welcomes Dr. Molly Miller with her trio, the group's bandleader the chair of the guitar department of the Los Angeles College of Music who has performed with Jason Mraz’s band and has been showcased on NPR’s Fresh Air. And wrapping up the Main Stage evening (and preceding the night's 9:30 p.m. fireworks display) is SuperBlue, with Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter, at 8 PM. Lauded by the New York Times as “the standout jazz vocalist of our time,” Ellis has 15 Grammy nominations and two wins, and has topped the DownBeat Critics and Readers polls for the past 14 years. SuperBlue is a collaboration with guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter, who returns to Iowa City for his third Jazz Festival appearance.
On Sunday, the Main Stage performances will be opened at 1p.m. by saxophonist, composer, and vocalist Camille Thurman, a past runner-up in the Sarah Vaughn International vocal competition and two-time winner of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award. In 2018, she became the first woman in 30 years to perform full-time in Wynton Marsalis’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and Thurman has also shared stages with such legends as Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monae, and Alicia Keys, and many more.
Closing out the festival at 3 p.m. are multi-Grammy Award winners John Daversa with Tal Cohen. Daversa is a world-renowned trumpeter and chair of the prestigious Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and joining him on Sunday is pianist Cohen, a past winner of the Barry Harris National Piano Competition whose unique style blends traditional jazz with the music of his Jewish heritage.
Over the July 1 through 3 weekend, a second stage will feature some of the Corridor’s top area musicians including: the Saul Lubaroff Fusion Band; the Nick Rueckert Quartet; the Crystal Rebone Trio; Goliath; the Mina Jazz Quartet; and the Dan Padley Quartet. The Local Stage will be located on Clinton Street near Washington, and the Main Stage and Local Stage events will be staggered to ensure that all Iowa City Jazz Festival attendees can catch all the performances.
For more information on the weekend, visit SummerOfTheArts.org.