Like most live music events, the Montclair Jazz Festival was forced to do things a little differently this year. Normally, this free outdoor fest in Montclair, New Jersey—produced by Jazz House Kids, a community education program run by Melissa Walker and her husband Christian McBride—would be held in a local park in mid-August. For 2021, it was moved to September and two stages on the streets of downtown Montclair, as the culmination of a summer-long concert series at various locations around town featuring such artists as Dave Stryker, Lauren Sevian, and Ingrid Jensen. Performers for this one-day grand finale, named the Downtown Jamboree, included Billy Hart, Alicia Olatuja, Emmet Cohen, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Camille Thurman, brothers Zaccai and Luques Curtis, the Baylor Project, the Jazz House Collective led by Nathan Eklund, and of course Mr. McBride himself with an all-star band featuring Mike Stern and Chris Potter.
Thanks in part to significant help from the weather gods circling over northern New Jersey, the retooled festival turned out to be a success, boasting a friendly street-fair vibe and plenty of top-notch performances. Regular JazzTimes photographer Alan Nahigian was there all day and brought back some memorable images.
Find out more about the Montclair Jazz Festival by visiting its official website.
Longtime festival sign-letterer: Newport, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage, etc. (photo: Alan Nahigian)