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Herbie Hancock
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue
Angélique Kidjo and Richard Bona
Christian McBride and Samara Joy
Norman Brown and Gerald Albright
Steve Smith and Vital Information
Dominick Farinacci and Triad/Braxton Cook
Dan Wilson

Indoor Lineup

Indoor Lineup

The 44th annual festival features eight concerts inside Playhouse Square’s historic venues and showcases an eclectic series, including the 2023 Grammy winner for Best New Artist; arguably, the best New Orleans-style party band on the scene; a legendary American jazz icon; and one of today’s greatest artists in international music.

Individual tickets are on sale now through the Playhouse Square box office. Click here to buy single tickets.

The 2023 JazzFest also includes free outdoor concerts on the plaza at Playhouse Square from 3 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday of the festival weekend. The popular performances feature local and regional talent selected by a jury of music industry experts.

Learn more about our indoor lineup of artists below.

Angélique Kidjo/Richard Bona

Angélique Kidjo/Richard Bona Presents ASANTE Trio Featuring Osmany Paredes (Piano) and ÍIario Bell (Drums)

“Kidjo’s voice is constant, an instrument of such power and clarity that it sounds equally capable of polishing glass or announcing Judgment Day.” —The New Yorker

Five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of today’s greatest artists in international music, “Africa’s premier diva” was named one of 2021’s 100 Most Influential People by TIME magazine for her striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages.

Kidjo has been included in the BBC’s 50 Most Iconic Figures, and The Guardian named her one of the Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World in 2011. Ranked first on the Forbes list of Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa, she has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, as well as European and Latin American influences. 

As an ambassador for UNICEF and Oxfam, Kidjo travels the world advocating on behalf of children. In 2019, President Macron of France named her spokesperson for the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative, which helps close the financing gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa. Her own charitable foundation, Batonga, is dedicated to supporting the education of young African girls.

"Imagine an artist with Jaco Pastorious’ virtuosity, George Benson’s vocal fluidity, João Gilberto’s sense of song and harmony, all mixed up with African culture. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Richard Bona!" —The Los Angeles Times

Grammy winner Richard Bona is one of the world’s most accomplished bass players, composers and multi-instrumentalists. He has toured, composed and recorded with Herbie Hancock, Harry Belafonte, Steps Ahead, Quincy Jones, Chick Corea, Buena Vista Social Club, Cesária Évora, Sting, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Stevie Wonder, Bobby McFerrin, Chucho Valdés, George Benson, Oumou Sangaré and many more.

The Cameroon-born musician’s unique sound and vocal gift represent his African origins, addressing the continent’s traditions, culture, beauty and issues. His purpose and method of connecting with his audience have made him a staple of world, jazz and Afropop music.

Bona has taught jazz improvisation at NYU and mentors young talent throughout the world. He’s also a TED speaker and ambassador for various nonprofit projects.

Thursday, June 22 | 7:30 p.m.
Mimi Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square

Christian McBride/Samara Joy

Christian McBride/Samara Joy

Christian McBride moved to New York in 1989 to pursue classical studies at The Juilliard School and was promptly recruited by saxophonist Bobby Watson, leading to a decade’s worth of recording sessions and countless gigs with an ever-expanding circle of musicians.

His longest-running project, the Christian McBride Band, formed in 2000. Praised by writer Alan Leeds as "one of the most intoxicating, least predictable bands on the scene today," the CMB — saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully — is built on a framework of experience and powered by unfettered creativity.

McBride focused his energy through a more traditional lens with the 2009 debut of his Inside Straight quintet and the Christian McBride Big Band, whose 2012 release The Good Feeling won a Grammy for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album. McBride later added the role of mentor, tapping pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. for the Christian McBride Trio’s Grammy-nominated album Out Here.

A respected educator and advocate, McBride was named artistic director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005) and creative chair for jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005). He now serves as artistic advisor for jazz programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and as artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival.

McBride hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM and “Jazz Night in America,” a collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center that showcases live jazz from across the country. His staggering body of work and gift for storytelling help bridge the gap between artist, music and audience.

From jazz to R&B to pop/rock to hip-hop/neo-soul to classical, McBride is a luminary with one hand ever reaching for new heights — and the other extended in fellowship.

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Samara Joy won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019. She’s appeared on the TODAY show and released several viral video performances. With more than 200,000 TikTok followers, Joy is introducing jazz to a whole new generation. Her musical lineage stretches back to her paternal grandparents, Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, who performed with Philadelphia gospel group the Savettes, and runs through her father, Antonio McLendon, a singer, songwriter and producer who toured with gospel artist Andraé Crouch.

Friday, June 23 | 5 p.m.
Mimi Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square

Gerald Albright

Norman Brown/Gerald Albright

Update: Norman Brown unable to perform tonight

We regret to announce that Norman Brown is unable to perform this evening (Friday, June 23) due to a health emergency. Gerald Albright will go on as scheduled.

If you wish to receive a refund, please bring your unused tickets to the Playhouse Square Box Office or call 216-241-6000 (weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.).

We are sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment this has caused.

“A culmination of Jimi Hendrix and George Benson, with some Wes Montgomery thrown in.” —JazzTimes

The joy that emanates from guitarist Norman Brown is palpable — the guitar is simply an extension of the man. A musician’s musician, he has collaborated with George Benson, Brian McKnight, Kirk Whalum, Miki Howard, Jeff Lorber, Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Chanté Moore, Peabo Bryson and many more over the past three decades. Brown’s many accolades include a Grammy Award and a Soul Train Music Award.

Grammy-nominated jazz artist Gerald Albright has established himself as the consummate session and touring musician on both saxophone and bass. The Los Angeles native has worked with Anita Baker, Ray Parker Jr., Atlantic Starr, The Temptations, Maurice White, Les McCann, Teena Marie, Patrice Rushen, The Winans, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston.

“Top to bottom,” Albright says. “Whether in concert, listening to my music over the radio or CD player, I always want my listeners to be taken on a musical journey with different textures, rhythms, chord progressions and moods.”

Albright has also appeared on many television programs, such as A Different World, and numerous jazz segments for Black Entertainment Television. He was one of 10 saxophonists to perform at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. In September 2021 Albright received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joseph R. Biden.

Friday, June 23 | 7:30 p.m.
Connor Palace, Playhouse Square

Dan Wilson featuring Jennifer Hartswick

Dan Wilson featuring Jennifer Hartswick

7 Decades of Wonder: The Genius of Stevie

Grammy-nominated guitarist and Akron native Dan Wilson attributes his artistry to Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass and George Benson. He played with the late Joey DeFrancesco for several years before meeting bassist Christian McBride and touring with his Tip City trio.

Trumpeter and vocalist Jennifer Hartswick will join Wilson for a tribute to legend Stevie Wonder. Hartswick has performed with Herbie Hancock, Phish, Christian McBride, Tom Petty, Aaron Neville, Carlos Santana, the Rolling Stones, Big Gigantic, Dave Matthews and countless others.

Friday, June 23 | 10 p.m.
Allen Theatre, Playhouse Square

Dominick Farinacci and Triad/Braxton Cook

Dominick Farinacci and Triad/Braxton Cook

Trumpeter and Cleveland Arts Prize recipient Dominick Farinacci is an alumnus of The Juilliard School’s first jazz program. At 17, he opened for Wynton Marsalis and his big band at Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland. Marsalis later invited him to New York City to perform on a live PBS broadcast, Live From Lincoln Center: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong, with Trombone Shorty and Brandon Lee. Farinacci’s newest group, Triad — created with Christian Tamburr and Michael Ward-Bergeman — weaves together the diverse musical realms of jazz, blues, orchestral and world music.

Emmy winner Braxton Cook (2023 Tri-C JazzFest Artist-in-Residence) is one of his generation’s most exciting voices. Not only does he exhibit world-class virtuosity on the alto saxophone, he is also a uniquely talented vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer who blends jazz, soul and alternative R&B into a sound all his own.

Cook studied saxophone under world-class educator Paul Carr. By 18, he had made a name for himself leading his own band at venues throughout the D.C. area. While at The Juilliard School, he met trumpeter Christian Scott and became a long-term member of his band. He also toured and performed with Christian McBride, Jon Batiste, Marquis Hill and others.

He released his debut EP, Sketch, in 2014, and launched his solo career in 2015 with Braxton Cook Meets Butcher Brown. Cook’s first full-length album, 2017’s Somewhere in Between, amassed millions of streams and downloads on Spotify and Apple Music. No Doubt debuted at #2 on iTunes Jazz Charts in 2018, while 2020’s Fire Sign garnered over 1 million streams in just a few weeks.

FADER magazine named Cook a Jazz Marvel and Jazz Prodigy in 2017, and he was one of EBONY magazine’s Top 5 Jazz Artists to Watch in 2018. Outside of the jazz sphere, he has worked alongside Rihanna, Solange Knowles and Phony Ppl and was featured on Tom Misch’s 2018 U.S. tour.

Saturday, June 24 | 2 p.m.
Mimi Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square

Steve Smith and Vital Information

Steve Smith and Vital Information: Steve Smith/drums, Manuel Valera/keys, Janek Gwizdala/bass

Vital Information is a jazz fusion group led by critically acclaimed drummer Steve Smith. Appearing on recordings that have sold over 100 million copies worldwide, Smith has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz and rock including Journey, Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey, Zucchero and Jean-Luc Ponty. Modern Drummer magazine named him one of their Top 25 Drummers of All Time in 2001. Vital Information celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Saturday, June 24 | 5 p.m.
Allen Theatre, Playhouse Square

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

“New material was mixed in with warhorse favorites, but, as with all Hancock gigs, you were never quite sure where things were heading. The band’s personality and solo strength played their part. But mostly the sense of discovery was due to the new angles Hancock continues to find and the way he pushes his band to the edge.” —Financial Times

Now in the sixth decade of his professional life, Herbie Hancock remains where he has always been: at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music. A legendary pianist and composer, he has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. 

A member of the groundbreaking Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock developed new approaches on his own recordings as well. His record-breaking 1973 album Headhunters combines electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music, while 1983’s Future Shock marked his foray into electronic dance sounds. Hancock continued to work in an acoustic setting with the V.S.O.P. Quintet featuring ex-bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.

He received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for 2007’s River: The Joni Letters and two for 2011’s The Imagine Project. Many of his compositions, including "Cantaloupe Island," "Maiden Voyage," "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon," are modern standards.

Hancock serves as creative chair for jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and as chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. He is a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace and received the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

In 2011, Hancock was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2013 and was awarded a Charles Eliot Norton Professorship in Poetry at Harvard University in 2014. His memoir, Herbie Hancock: Possibilities, was published by Viking that same year, and he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2016.

Saturday, June 24 | 7 p.m.
Connor Palace, Playhouse Square

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Born Troy Andrews, Trombone Shorty got his start (and nickname) earlier than most. At 4, he made his first appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival performing with Bo Diddley. At 6, he was leading his own brass band. And as a teenager, he was hired by Lenny Kravitz to join the band assembled for his Electric Church World Tour.

Shorty’s proven he’s more than just a horn player, though. Catch a gig, open The New York Times or Vanity Fair, flip on any late-night TV show and you’ll see an undeniable star with utterly magnetic charisma — a natural-born showman who can command an audience with the best of them.

Since 2010, he’s released four chart-topping studio albums; toured with everyone from Jeff Beck to the Red Hot Chili Peppers; collaborated across genres with Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Foo Fighters, ZHU, Zac Brown, Normani, Ringo Starr and countless others; and played Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk, Newport Jazz and nearly every other major festival.

He’s performed four times at the Grammy Awards, five times at the White House, on dozens of TV shows and at the star-studded Sesame Street Gala, where he was honored with his own Muppet. He launched the Trombone Shorty Foundation in 2011 to support youth music education, and he received the prestigious Caldecott Honor in 2016 for his first children’s book, Trombone Shorty.

In New Orleans, Shorty leads his own Mardi Gras parade atop a giant float crafted in his likeness; hosts the annual Voodoo Threauxdown, which has drawn guests including Usher, Nick Jonas, Dierks Bentley, Andra Day and Leon Bridges to sit in with his band; and has taken over Jazz Fest’s hallowed final set, which has seen him close out the internationally renowned gathering after performances by the likes of Neil Young, the Black Keys and Kings of Leon.

Saturday, June 24 | 9:30 p.m.
Connor Palace, Playhouse Square