The best of Northeast Ohio’s jazz talent livestreamed over three summer nights (Aug. 21-23) in a virtual edition of the 41st annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland, presented by KeyBank.
The virtual festival featured pre-recorded and live performances by the artists, as well as drop-in interviews with jazz icons and footage of memorable moments from past Tri-C JazzFests. Learn more about our lineup artists below!
Chris Coles' Gleam
Saxophonist Chris Coles was awarded a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant for his Nine Lives project, which is dedicated to the victims of the 2015 Charleston Church shooting. He performed with Dave Morgan (bass), Holbrook Riles III (percussion/electronics), Anthony Taddeo (percussion/electronics), Joey Skoch (piano), Zaire Darden (drums) and Tommy Lehman (trumpet).
Dan Bruce's :beta collective
A powerhouse group including some of the Midwest’s finest improvisers, Dan Bruce’s :beta collective is a modern jazz ensemble that performs all original compositions. The ensemble is known for its compositional breadth, as well as interactive and highly energetic performances. A hallmark of the compositions is the interaction between thoroughly composed music and free improvisation, much of it set to expansive and driving grooves. The band includes Bruce (guitar), Chris Anderson (trombone), Theron Brown (keys), Chris Coles (sax), Aiden Plank (bass), Anthony Taddeo (drums) and Brad Wagner (sax).
Dan Wilson Trio
Over the past few years, Dan Wilson has toured nationally and internationally with legendary jazz figures such as Christian McBride and Joey DeFrancesco. He received a Grammy nomination for his work on Project Freedom, a 2017 release by DeFrancesco and The People. Zaire Darden (drums) and Kip Reed (bass) round out the trio.
Dominick Farinacci's Rhapsody in Blue: Revisited
Trumpeter Dominick Farinacci presents his commissioned arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin’s groundbreaking masterwork from 1924. He is joined by Jamey Haddad (percussion), Walter Barnes Jr. (bass), Jonathan Thomas (piano), Orlando Watson (spoken word) and Gabe Jones (drums). He also co-hosted the virtual festival.
Eddie Baccus Sr. Quartet
Eddie Baccus Sr. — known for his “chatty” organ style — is a 1999 Cleveland Jazz Legend Award winner and master of the B-3. Widely regarded as the standard bearer of Cleveland jazz, Baccus has been a leader, mentor and “the soul of the local jazz scene” since the early 1960s. He performs with Robert Curry (guitar), Perry Williams, III (drums) and Cecil Rucker (vibes).
Evelyn Wright Quartet
Vocalist Evelyn Wright – recipient of a 2008 Cleveland Jazz Legends Award – has opened for the likes of Mel Torme, Harry Belafonte and David “Fathead” Newman. She performs with Dave Thomas (B-3) Bill Ransom (drums) and Dominick Farinacci (trumpet), and guest hosted the festival.
FORECAST is a native Cleveland contemporary jazz band that performs a musical blend of instrumental jazz, funk, rock, reggae and pop. The band is composed of vibist Lem Adams, saxophonist Russ Thompson, keyboardist Alphonso McDuffie, bassist Gary Stevenson and drummer John Turner.
Drummer Robert Hubbard leads this all-star band mixing soul, jazz, R&B and a splash of gospel. His bandmates include Vencott Palmer (keys), Johnathan Jones (bass), Roger Maple (sax) and Stacey Richardson (vocals).
Jackie Warren with Johnny Cochran and Bobby Selvaggio
Pianist Jackie Warren – recipient of a 2018 Cleveland Jazz Legends Award – has performed locally and nationally as a soloist and with groups such as the Jackie Warren Trio, DIVA Jazz Orchestra and the powerhouse 3Divas. She performs with Johnny Cochran (sax) and Bobby Selvaggio (sax).
Joe Hunter with Chris Burge and Dominick Farinacci
Pianist Joe Hunter – recipient of a 2019 Cleveland Jazz Legends Award – has been recognized for his love of the American songbook and its relationship to the spirit of jazz. Known for his passion for Brazilian music, he has played as a solo artist and with various bands since the ‘80s. He performs at the festival with Chris Burge (sax), Dominick Farinacci (trumpet) and Evelyn Wright (vocals).
Jonathan Thomas with Dave Sterner, Will Blaze and Evelyn Wright
Pianist Jonathan Thomas is a graduate from The Juilliard School‘s jazz department who has played in jazz festivals and other high level musicians across the world such as Charles Tolliver, Marquis Hill, Jazzmeia Horn and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, among many others. Born and raised in Cleveland he benefited from the city’s wide range of jazz veterans and swing-rooted tradition. Sonically, his sound harkens to the creative influences he’s adopted. He performs at the festival with Dave Sterner (sax), Dominick Farinacci (trumpet), Will Blaze (vocals) and Evelyn Wright (vocals).
Pianist, educator and songwriter Lafayette Carthon — who many know as senior pastor of Faith Church of Glenville — has production credits on projects with Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Marvin Winans, to name a few. Vocalist Will Blaze joins Carthon at the festival.
Sammy DeLeon's Latin Jazz Sextet
Percussionist Sammy DeLeon — recipient of a 2016 Cleveland Jazz Legends Award — has performed with some of the world’s greatest Latin musicians and always rocks the stage. He performs with his Latin Jazz Sextet which includes DeLeon (percussion), Tommy First (sax), Jose Hernandez (bass), Scott McKee (trumpet), Rafael Guzman (congas) and Jackie Warren (piano).
Tri-C's Spirit of the Groove
Spirit of the Groove is an all-star ensemble from the Tri-C JazzFest Academy. It is comprised of nine young artists from various Northeast Ohio high schools who are committed to pursuing jazz full-time in college. The group includes Jonah Bencheck (piano), Cameron Burton (drums and percussion), Graeham Guerin (upright bass), Burton Hall (sax), Tim Picard (guitar), Ava Preston (vocals), Thomas Schinabeck (alto sax), Nick Sopko (alto sax), Samantha St. John (upright bass) and Gabe Jones (drums).
Jazz vocalist Vanessa Rubin – recipient of a 2015 Cleveland Jazz Legends Award – is a product of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at The Kennedy Center and has been a national touring artist for three decades. She is joined by Jackie Warren (piano), Reggie Jackson (drums) and Peter Dominguez (bass).
Walter Barnes Jr. & Friends
Bassist Walter Barnes Jr. has recorded and performed with acts such as Yolanda Adams, The O’Jays and Kim Burrell while straddling the worlds of gospel and soul. He currently plays with Toni Braxton and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. He is joined by Gabe Jones (drums), Bryan Golden (piano/keys), Jordan Wright (keys) and Willie Ross (guitar).