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Six East Coast Jazz Clubs Band Together for One-Day Virtual Festival

More than 60 jazz artists to be featured online in East Coast Jazz Festival on March 20

Tia Fuller 2018
Tia Fuller at the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival, 2018 (photo: Joseph Allen)

It’s no secret that jazz clubs have suffered mightily during the pandemic, crippled by the inability to regularly present live music (and food and beverages) to audiences. Burdened with costly rents or mortgages yet without any real revenue stream, the venues have struggled to adapt by doing live streams, fundraisers and limited-audience shows. Now, nearly one year since the shutdown began, six jazz clubs on the East Coast have come together to create what they’re calling the East Coast Jazz Festival, which will take place on Saturday, March 20 from 5 to 11 p.m. ET. 

Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Smalls and Birdland in New York, Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia, Keystone Korner in Baltimore, and Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. will present a combination of live sets and pre-recorded sessions in a veritable jazz telethon with more than 60 notable jazz artists. The cost of the event is, as they call it, “pay as you wish,” and guests can flip back and forth from one venue to another to check out each club’s shows.

Ryan Paternite, director of programming and media for Birdland, said in a press release received by JT, “Not only has the pandemic challenged us and our fellow clubs to accelerate and refine our streaming concert programs, to the benefit of our fans, but the circumstances have also enabled us to program a stunning scope and diversity of artists—otherwise nearly impossible to hear in one evening.”

“Our music can be an indispensable spiritual life raft for our turbulent times when we need more sharing and caring than ever,” explained Todd Barkan of the Keystone Korner Baltimore. “May this important ECJF collaboration be just the beginning of an ever-growing process and practice of team work to make the dream work.”

Here is the lineup and schedule for the festival:

Chris’ Jazz Cafe
6 p.m.: Alex Claffy Quartet, featuring saxophonist/vocalist Sonny Step 
8 p.m.: Ari Hoenig Trio with pianist Gadi Lehavi and bassist Ben Tiberio 
10 p.m.: Orrin Evans Quartet with bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Mark Whitfield Jr., and special guest saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins 

SmallsLIVE Foundation 
5 p.m.: Nicole Glover Trio
7 p.m.: Warren Wolf Quartet
9 p.m.: Mike Ledonne Quartet featuring Vincent Herring

Keystone Korner Baltimore
5 p.m.: Obasi Akoto Oceanic Jazz Orchestra/ Jean Carn & Company 
7 p.m.: Cyrus Chestnut & Affirmation with Tim Green, Obasi Akoto, and Quincy Phillips
9 p.m.: Big Chief Donald Harrison with Warren Wolf, Kris Funn, Alex Brown, and John Lamkin III

Blues Alley
6 p.m.: Miki Yamanaka
8 p.m.: Eri Yamamoto
10 p.m.: Yoko Miwa

Birdland
5 p.m.: David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band / Ken Peplowski & Rossano Sportiello Duo
7 p.m.: Ben Allison, Ted Nash, & Steve Cardenas Play the Music of Jimmy Giuffre & Jim Hall / Champian Fulton Quartet “Bird Song”: A Charlie Parker Centennial Celebration
9 p.m.: Houston Person Quartet / Veronica Swift with The Emmet Cohen Trio

Scullers
6 p.m.: Christian Sands
8 p.m.: Keyon Harrold
10 p.m.: Tia Fuller 

Jazz fans interested in watching all or any of this six-hour event can pre-register here.