Sunday, April 05, 2009

17th Annual Capital Jazz Fest Loaded With Head-Turning Performers

Once again it's time to mark your calendars for the 17th Annual Capital Jazz Fest being held the weekend of June 5th-7th, 2009 in the lovely wooded setting of the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. A thrilling line-up of vibrant contemporary Jazz and R&B is coming on two big stages where music magic will most certainly mesmerize. The Pavilion Jazz Stage will be graced by superstars known for great playing and performing. NATALIE COLE will make her eagerly anticipated festival debut along with returning stars, GEORGE DUKE, AL JARREAU, SMV featuring Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, LALAH HATHAWAY, FOURPLAY, NORMAN BROWN, ROY AYERS, WILL DOWNING, KIRK WHALUM, PIECES OF A DREAM with Special Guest PHIL PERRY, GUITAR & SAXES (f/Jeff Lorber, Euge Groove, Jeff Golub and Lady Saxophone Newcomer Jessy J), REGINA BELLE, MARION MEADOWS and Trumpeter JOEY SOMMERVILLE.

Meanwhile on The Soul Stage at Symphony Woods (a.k.a. 'The Party Stage'), R&B lovers will be treated to the 20th Anniversary Reunion of all four original members of EN VOGUE (Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones and the returning Dawn Robinson), as well as a new all-star trio of soulful UNDERGROUND DIVAS (Maysa of Incognito, N'Dea Davenport of The Brand New Heavies and Caron Wheeler from the original Soul II Soul).

Founded in 1993 by Producer and Promoter CLIFF HUNTE, CAPITAL JAZZ FEST swiftly became the most anticipated annual music event for Jazz and R&B lovers thanks to its relaxing idyllic setting, people-watching, art, delicious food, crafts and of course, all the great live music with artists you often get to meet and talk to during the informal Q&A sessions. Hunte states, 'I've visited festivals all over the world asking music fans what they love to experience in an outdoor festival setting. Every year we raise the bar of our event.... And this one is no exception.'

One very special component of the Festival is the 'Capital Jazz Challenge' held at the Hilton Columbia Hotel, which gives an aspiring contemporary jazz instrumentalist the opportunity to win $5, 000 and perform at the Capital Jazz Fest. 'It's our jazz version of 'American Idol, ' 'Hunte explains. 'We started the competition in 2004 as a way to give exposure to deserving, up and coming talents. This is especially important now that there are so few jazz stations to expose new artists. Applicants from all over the country send us a video of themselves performing live. The chosen six then fly here to be judged by our panel of respected representatives from the music community. The winner will perform on the Festival's Main Stage as the opening act on Sunday, June 7th accompanied by Washington D.C. jazz band PHAZE II (which won this competition in 2005). The artist gets exposure and the audience gets to catch a rising star'

Capital Jazz Fest has become such an integral component of the Mid-Atlantic jazz community that it has spawned two major spin-offs. The first is the Capital Jazz SuperCruise, now enjoying its third year in partnership with Royal Caribbean International. On-deck for 'SuperCruise III'- a seven day, full-ship charter jazz cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas, October 10-17, 2009-are DAVID SANBORN, JONATHAN BUTLER, BRAIN CULBERTSON, HIDDEN BEACH UNWRAPPED BAND, CANDY DULFER, JOE SAMPLE, RICK BRAUN, PATTI AUSTIN, NAJEE, WAR, special jam sessions hosted by Mike Phillips, a special guest comedian A.J. Jamal, special guest DJ Spinderella, plus even more to be announced!

The second exciting Capital Jazz Fest spin-off is Capital Jazz Radio (, kicking out kinetically stimulating 'Jazz That Rocks...24/7.' In addition to promoting the participants in the Capital Jazz Fest, SuperCruise and beyond, this online station was created to fill the void left by the demise of so many smooth jazz stations on the east coast.

Both of these timely new developments are boldly filling voids for people faced with ever-fewer outlets for enjoying high quality/high energy jazz.

Tickets are now on sale for Capital Jazz Fest-'The Woodstock of Jazz Festivals' (as described by guitarist Chuck Loeb) and the first great music event of every east coast summer-and the Capital Jazz SuperCruise III, 'The Jazz Vacation of a Lifetime!'

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