EAST LANSING, Mich. — The 2019 Summer Solstice Jazz Festival (SSJF) will bring local, regional and national jazz acts to the heart of downtown East Lansing for a free, two-day festival that is not to be missed. This year’s festival will take place Friday, June 21 from 4-11 p.m. and Saturday, June 22 from 2:30-11 p.m.
Festival goers should note that the festival layout is the same as last year’s layout. The Founders’ Stage will be located in the Bailey Parking Lot, 139 Bailey St., and the Education Stage will be located adjacent to the Albert-Division intersection.
This year’s Friday night headliner is Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, an all-female sextet known for their Afro-Cuban jazz. Jane Bunnett is a three-time Grammy nominee and five-time Juno Award winner who partnered five years ago with Maqueque - an ensemble of five, all-star female Cuban musicians. Together, they bring the soul of Cuba to the hearts of music lovers and have become one of the top groups in the North American jazz scene.
The Saturday night headliner is Straight Ahead, an all-female quartet of Grammy-nominated recording artists from Detroit, Mich. Widely recognized for their eclectic and soulful approach to creating music, the Straight Ahead sound ranges from mainstream jazz R&B ballads to avant-garde and Brazilian funk. Their live performances are a dynamic celebration of power and joy.
Other 2019 Founders’ Stage performers include the Randy Gelispie Organ Ensemble, Etienne Charles, Maureen Choi, Xavier Davis Quartet with Regina Carter and the Rodney Whitaker Sextet. The 2019 Education Stage performers include the Stanley Ruvinov Quartet, Jordyn Davis, Tim Blackmon & Tissa Khosla, Jeff Shoup Quartet, 496 West, JAMM, Margherita Fava Quartet, Brandon Rose, The Becoming Quintet, Max Colley and Root Doctor. The complete schedule of performances can be found here: https://www.eljazzfest.com/193/2019-Performer-Line-up. The performer bios can be found here: https://www.eljazzfest.com/217/2019-Performer-Bios. High-resolution photos of some of this year’s performers can be found here: https://cityofeastlansing.com/gallery.aspx?AID=24
In addition to live music, there will be on-site food trucks, children’s activities and other fun programming for community members of all ages. Community members can learn more about the festival at www.eljazzfest.com.
The SSJF is presented by the City of East Lansing and Michigan State University College of Music, with artistic direction by Rodney Whitaker. Major sponsors of this year’s festival include the MSU Office of the Provost, Gregg Hill & Lois Mummaw and the MSU Federal Credit Union.
SSJF to Feature Music by Composer Gregg Hill
This year’s SSJF will feature music from Gregg Hill, a Michigan-based composer with two published volumes of original jazz compositions. Hill recently collaborated with internationally renowned bassist Rodney Whitaker and released their new jazz album, “Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill, featuring Rodney Whitaker.” Community members will have the opportunity to hear songs from their album on Saturday, June 22 at the Founders’ Stage when Whitaker’s band takes the stage.
Volunteers are always needed and greatly appreciated. Those interested in lending a hand can call (517) 319-6888, email email@example.com or sign up online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0a4eaba62aa7f85-2019. All volunteers will receive a t-shirt, meal and access to VIP seating and the green room.