The Denton Arts and Jazz Festival is a celebration of the arts in a community known for embracing and nurturing music, dance, choral, drama and the visual arts. The free event is produced by the Denton Festival Foundation, Inc. with the generous support of sponsors such as the Dallas/Fort Worth American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147 and the city of Denton. Held the last full weekend in April at Denton’s Quakertown Park, the event features seven stages of continuous music, fine art, crafts, and food, games and information booths in a beautiful, outdoor setting.
The Festival Foundation uses proceeds from booth rentals and concession sales to support the arts throughout the city of Denton. Arts facilities, service organizations, and preservation projects have all been the recipients of the proceeds from past events, in addition to public art for the enjoyment of all.
Come see the best that Denton has to offer – the sights, sounds and flavors that make up the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival are perfect for all ages.
Due to the large crowds we ask that you leave your pets at home – SERVICE DOGS ONLY, PLEASE and NO COOLERS IN THE JAZZ AREA!
Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane & Matt Garrison - (Friday, 9:00 pm – Jazz Stage)
In a career that spans five decades and includes collaborations with some of the most iconic figures in modern jazz, NEA and Grammy winner JACK DEJOHNETTE has established an unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest drummers in the history of the genre.
He is one of the most consistently inventive jazz percussionists in history, having emerged in the 1960's playing with John Coltrane, Charles Lloyd, Thelonius Monk, Keith Jarrett and many others. Considered one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th Century, DeJohnette incorporates elements of jazz, free jazz, world music and R & B, making him one of the most highly regarded and in-demand drummers. His style has been called unique; one critic wrote that he is not merely a drummer but a "percussionist, colourist and epigrammatic commentator mediating the shifting ensemble densities" and that "his drumming is always a part of the music's internal construction". Modern Drummer magazine, in a 2004 interview, called DeJohnette's drumming "beyond technique".
The list of his creative associations is lengthy and diverse: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Omette Coleman, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and many more. Born in Chicago to a family where music appreciation was a high priority, he first studied piano and later added drums to his repertoire when joining his high school concert band. "As a child, I listened to all kinds of music and I never put them into categories:, he recalls. "I had formal lessons on piano and listened to opera, country and western, rhythm and blues, swing, jazz, whatever. To me, it was all music and all great. I've kept that integrated feeling about music, all types of music, and just carried it with me. I've maintained that belief and feeling in spite of the ongoing trend to try and compartmentalize people and music."
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The son of saxophonists John Coltrane and jazz pianist Alice Coltrane, RAVI COLTRANE is a tenor and soprano saxophonist, band leader and composer. He has fronted a variety of jazz line-ups, recorded critically-hailed albums as a leader and produced recordings by other artists, including his mother, and founded an independent record label.
Ben Ratliff of the New York Times wrote this about Ravi's 2005 album In Flux: "Mr. Coltrane avoids tired song structures and doesn't want to bore you. He's fascinated on one hand by miniatures and on the other by the idea of longer songs that sound like collective improvisation from start to finish. It's a record you can point to and say: This is what jazz sounds like now in New York."
Coltrane remains busy, dedicated and remarkably clear as to the spirit behind his decision to pursue music as his profession. "I want to be involved with music that is truly honest, that's not trying to follow trends or fit into someone's idea about what jazz "is". For Bird, Miles, Monk, Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, I hold the highest level of appreciation because their love and knowledge of tradition was never greater than their need to follow their own path - the need to be themselves - this is my goal. My aspiration is to acknowledge with love my influences while attempting a move forward; to be open and receptive to shifts in the musical terrain; to make music that is relevant to my present day experience."
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The godson of Jack DeJohnette, MATTHEW GARRISON has been called "an electric bass virtuoso" and is considered one of the most technically gifted jazz musicians of his generation. The son of bassist Jimmy Garrison, he began to play professionally in 1994 and has performed with the likes of Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, John McLaughlin and toured with Whitney Houston on her Nothing But Love tour in 2010
In 2012 Matthew, along with his business partner Fortuna Sung, opened ShapeShifter Lab which is quickly becoming one of the most important and influential music venues in New York. The Brooklyn based venue features performances by the most important artists on the music scene today and has been voted by Time Out New York (2013) as one of the best 10 venues in New York and by Downbeat (2014) as one of the best jazz venues in the world.
Aaron Neville - (Saturday, 9:00 pm – Jazz Stage)
Although AARON NEVILLE is often compared to singer Sam Cooke in terms of sheer vocal refinement, he has a voice and style uniquely his own. He is well known as part of the New Orleans sound of The Neville Brothers. Musically, of course, you know Aaron as a lover, not a fighter. The strange trajectory of his recording career began in 1960 when he recorded a single with producer/writer Allen Toussaint. It didn't seem like a good omen when the record company misspelled his name as "Arron" on the label, but it was an auspicious beginning, musically if not commercially. It wasn't until his second single, six years later, that Neville experienced at least a fleeting taste of stardom. Tell It Like It Is became a No. 2 pop hit and No. 1 R&B smash. Unfortunately, the record company that produced the hit went defunct so Neville headed home to care for his family, supporting himself as a dockworker. "I was happy to have a job" he says, never feeling as if the universe owed him a living as a musician.
In the late 1970's The Neville Brothers - Cyril, Charles, Art and Aaron - came together as a backing unit for their uncle's Wild Tchoupitoulas and finally decided to strike out as a unit on their own. The sibling group found success primarily on the touring circuit but also garnering attention for albums like their 1989 debut for A&M Records, Yellow Moon, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of that era, for reasons not the least of which was the spooky richness of the Aaron-penned title track. And when it rained, in 1989, it poured. That was a very good year for his sole career, as he had his first real hit in 23 years with Don't Know Much, a No. 2 pop smash that was one of several duets with Neville that Linda Ronstadt included on her album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind. His work with Ronstadt netted him 2 Grammy Awards in 1989 and 1990.
For the quarter-century that followed, Neville deftly balanced the needs of dual group and solo careers. But eventually the demands of the road got to him and in 2015 The Neville Brothers held a "Nevilles Forever" all-star jam and goodbye blast in New Orleans during Jazz Fest. "There comes a time when you look at life and think about your mortality and say, 'How much have I got left?"', he said. "I wanted a chance to do some of the stuff that I'd always wanted to do, and I couldn't do all of it."
The affect of Aaron Neville's voice on people is incalculable. "I've had people tell me different things, like this lady who told me they had a 5 year old little boy who was autistic, and they had to keep him in a padded room - the only thing that would calm him down is when they put a headset on him with my voice. It gave me chills when she said that", says Neville. "All I could say is, it's the God in me touching the God in him. I can't take responsibility. I'm just a singer, you know, and I'm trying to make the tenderest notes that could heal, in some way. I used to say that I wish I could make a note so pure that it could cure cancer."
Brave Combo – (Sunday, 7:00 pm – Jazz Stage)
Trying to describe BRAVE COMBO's music requires a pretty extensive vocabulary- at least when it comes to musical styles. For the past three decades the Denton-based quintet has perfected a world mix music that includes salsa, meringue, rock, cumbia, conjunto, polka, zydeco, classical, cha-cha, the blues and more. They are America's premier dance band and a rollicking, rocking, rhythmic global journeyoffering what one critic recently wrote: "Even if you come for the party, you'll leave with something of a musical education."
The band's catalog of recordings includes everything from Japanese pop to Latin American dance tunes, orchestral classics to rock and roll at its finest. From festivals and fairs od all varieties across the globe, rock clubs big and small, colleges, roadhouses, dances, cultural centers (including the annual Midsummer Night's Swing at Lincoln Center in New York City), Brave Combo has charmed countless listeners and won avid devotees. The band has won two Grammy Awards and has been nominated for their work a total of seven times.
The band is comprised of founder Carl Finch who was recently inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame, Finch sings vocals and plays guitar, keyboard and accordion. He is joined by Danny O'Brien on trumpet, Alan Emert of drums, Little Jack Melody on bass guitar and Robert Hokamp on guitar.