A joyful Juneteenth at the Baltimore Jazz Fest
The free outdoor celebration returns, bringing mellow vibes and world-class music to Waverly
Above: Warm weather and hot performances bring the crowd to its feet. (Fern Shen)
It was Fathers Day. It was Juneteenth. And it was a grand gathering of Baltimore’s jazz community with performances by some of the biggest local names and brightest up-and-comers.
Throw in the fact that the weather was sunny, breezy and blessedly not humid, and the result was a terrific Baltimore Jazz Fest event yesterday in Waverly.
The all-day outdoor celebration was a project of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance (BJA) in partnership with St. John’s Episcopal Church at 3009 Greenmount Avenue.
Back after Pandemic Pause
The idea for the event came from a desire by the church to invite the community to use its facilities, including its shady green outdoor space, “St. John’s in the Village.”
“Linda Richardson of Jazzy Productions and the BJA formed a plan to host the one-day event, which was an amazing success in 2019,” according to the event website.
After a two-year pause for pandemic precautions, the organizers brought the event back this year, with assistance from the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA), The National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland State Arts Council and other sponsors.
There was food, beer and wine, arts and crafts for sale, a juggler in a sparkly costume, a “Musical Instrument Petting Zoo” provided by BJA and a profusion of hula hoops distributed to the crowd by Andreas “Spilly” Spiliadis, of Baltimore Hoop Love.
Among the on-stage performers: Wordsmith, The 5th L, Ray Winder, The JoGo Project, Andrea Brachfeld, The Aaron Hill Trio, Keith Romeno Snipes, the Colesville Collective and the Baltimore Youth Poetry League.
Led by world renowned trumpeter Sean Jones, the Baltimore Jazz Collective closed out the show.
Jones, chair of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute, was joined onstage by Todd Marcus on bass clarinet, Kris Funn on bass, Alex Brown on keys, Quincey Phillips on drums, and guest vocalist, Irene Jalenti.
Whether it was Bob Marley covers like “Waiting in Vain” or original spoken-word compositions like the aching Father’s Day “Crazy World,” the performances made for a memorable day.