By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – Jazz will return to downtown this summer as the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival makes its debut on Aug. 9.
As part of its introduction, acclaimed jazz musician Charles Neville
performed with Eric Bascom in front of One Financial Place.
Neville, one of the famed Neville brothers, lives in Western Massachusetts and the nonprofit organization Blues to Green, headed by his wife Kristin, is producing the festival.
The event’s marketing coordinator, Jill Monson, said the free festival would take of the place of the Hoop City Jazz Festival. The last time the festival was presented it drew thousands of people, Mayor Domenic Sarno stated.
“People felt good about the city of Springfield,” he added.
Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin, and a member of the organizing committee, said the stage for the event would be set up in front of the historic 31 Elm Street at Court Square – “the focal point of Springfield culture,” he added.
Plotkin called the festival a “labor of love.”
Booked to perform so far is Springfield native Phil Woods. The saxophonist has worked with jazz icons such as Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman and his solos have been featured in Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are” and Paul Simon’s “Have a Good Time,” among other rock and pop recordings.
Woods was recently honored by the national Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Master Fellowship Award. He will be performing in Springfield with the Greg Caputo big band featuring Gary Smulyan.
Also confirmed is vocalist and saxophonist Grace Kelly and the Alex Snydman Trio and Latin jazz artist Chuchito Valdes Jr., a third generation Cuban jazz pianist.
Neville said that he would be performing with his daughter Charmaine who is a vocalist with her own band.
Other artists will be announced as their booking is finalized.