The 41st annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland, presented by KeyBank, features nine ticketed concerts in Playhouse Square’s historic theaters, with a lineup that celebrates the roots of jazz and the forward thinkers in music today.
Join us at Tri-C JazzFest this June and learn more about all of the artists in our lineup below.
Take 6 + Kirk Whalum
A cappella group Take 6 will headline opening night. Quincy Jones has hailed members Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley as the “baddest vocal cats on the planet.” The multi-platinum selling sextet attributes their longevity to the love and respect they have for one another — something keenly felt by the audience.
Kicking off the show is saxophonist Kirk Whalum, whose music is often described as soulful, passionate and stirring. Shaped by his Memphis gospel roots, with a career spanning decades, Whalum has a sound that is uniquely his. Who doesn’t know his distinctive solo on Whitney Houston’s hit “I Will Always Love You”? He has collaborated with Bob James, Take 6, Barbra Streisand, Edwin Hawkins and Quincy Jones, to name a few.
Thursday, June 25 │ 7:45 p.m.
KeyBank State Theatre
Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100 featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa and Terri Lyne Carrington
Co-directed by Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto saxophone) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), and joined by a superb lineup including Charenée Wade (vocals), Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Kris Davis (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass) and Kassa Overall (DJ), Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100 celebrates Parker’s centennial year by showcasing his uncompromising musical joy, humor and beauty through his deep repertoire and new, modern compositions.
Friday, June 26 │ 6 p.m.
Mimi Ohio Theatre
Angélique Kidjo + Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Four-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in world music today, a creative force with 13 albums to her name. Kidjo’s striking voice and charismatic stage presence cross-pollinate the West African traditions of her childhood with elements of R&B, funk and jazz, as well as European and Latin American influences. Expect the unexpected at this do-not-miss performance.
Performing first, two-time Grammy-winning salsa and Latin jazz band Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO) sets the gold standard for excellence in authentic, New York style hardcore salsa. Perfect for 2020, SHO is grounded in the past while focused on the future. They come at you full force with red-hot energy, blazing horns and musical precision that ignites audiences until the last note is played.
Friday, June 26 │ 7:45 p.m.
KeyBank State Theatre
John Mayall and Walter Trout: Survivor Tour
“The Godfather of British Blues,” John Mayall has an impressive musical career that spans more than 50 years. The English blues singer, pianist, harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter founded John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in the 1960s — a band that featured celebrated blues and blues rock guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Walter Trout and more.
Touring with Mayall and co-headlining the show is New Jersey-born blues rocker Walter Trout, who has spent decades as an ace sideman, playing guitar behind the likes of John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Joe Tex. After playing in the Bluesbreakers, Trout left to form the Walter Trout Band, which developed a successful following in Europe. The Cleveland show features Teddy “Zig Zag” Andreadis (vocals/keys), Johnny Griparic (bass/vocals) and Michael Leasure (drums/vocals).
Friday, June 26 │ 10:15 p.m.
Emmet Cohen + Julian Lage
Headlining this Saturday performance is dynamic jazz pianist Emmet Cohen. Also a former child prodigy, he plays an extensive repertoire with the command of a seasoned veteran. Cohen was the 2019 recipient of the Cole Porter Fellowship (American Pianists Competition) and has performed with Christian McBride, Ron Carter and Benny Golson, to name a few.
Julian Lage is one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation. A former child prodigy, he was the subject of the documentary Jules at Eight. He performed at the Grammy Awards at 12 and joined the Stanford Jazz Workshop faculty at 15. Lage is known for transformative performances featuring impeccable technique and a spirit of infinite possibility.
Saturday, June 27 │ 1 p.m.
Karriem Riggins + Joel Ross
Drummer and 2020 Tri-C JazzFest Artist-in-Residence Karriem Riggins has often shifted between the jazz and hip-hop scenes, but the two genres are so inextricably linked that it would be better to call him a flexible multi-instrumentalist and producer. Born in Detroit, Riggins has recorded with the likes of Mulgrew Miller, Rodney Whitaker, Ray Brown and Roy Hargrove, to name a few. He performs regularly with Diana Krall and collaborates frequently with Common.
Performing first is Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based vibraphonist and composer Joel Ross, who has a way of being everywhere interesting at once: from deeply innovative albums to reliably revolutionary combos to the buzzing debut of Blue Note’s 2018 breakout star James Francies. Even with his own bands, Ross is basically a living blur of mallets, talent and ideas.
Saturday, June 27 │ 3:30 p.m.
Mimi Ohio Theatre
Charles Lloyd featuring Marvin Sewell, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland
The critical consensus is that saxophonist Charles Lloyd has never sounded better. The depth of his expression reflects a lifetime of experience. His concerts and recordings are events of pristine beauty and elegance, full of intensely felt emotion and passion that touch deep inside the heart. This is not entertainment, but the powerful uncorrupted expression of beauty through music. “Go forward” is his motto, as he keeps shifting to a higher, better calibrated gear.
Saturday, June 27 │ 6 p.m.
Punch Brothers is an American quintet featuring Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar) and Paul Kowert (bass). Rolling Stone noted, "The genius of Thile and his bandmates is the artistry with which they mix bluegrass, roots, rock, pop, jazz and classical to create a unique, contemporary sound."
Though the band’s most recent album, 2018’s All Ashore, received a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album, the music they play is often described as “progressive bluegrass.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s living, breathing, spontaneous and intricate.
Saturday, June 27 │ 7:45 p.m.
KeyBank State Theatre
From the funk-laced beats and bass-heavy sousaphone blasts that kick off their Grammy-nominated album Spyboy to the gritty warmth of singer J’Wan Boudreaux’s voice, New Orleans brass band-meets-Mardi Gras Indian outfit Cha Wa radiates the fiery energy of the best features of the city’s street culture. “We wanted to take the roots of what we love about New Orleans brass band music and Mardi Gras Indian music and then voice it in our own way,” says Joe Gelini, the group’s drummer and founder.
Saturday, June 27 │ 10:15 p.m.
Jazz Brunch with Quiana Lynell
What's the best way to end JazzFest? Our annual jazz brunch at noon taking place the date after the festival weekend! This year, we are featuring singer Quiana Lynell at Nighttown.
The 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition winner, Lynell infuses her classical training with her gospel upbringing and approaches jazz as a storyteller. Her mesmerizing performances can only come about because Lynell believes every word that journeys from her soul. She hits every note with perfect timing and impeccable pitch.
Sunday, June 28 │ Noon