Hubert Laws photo courtesy of artist
Fort Worden State Park
Port Townsend, WA
A definitive summer highlight for aspiring musicians, experienced jazz artists, and audiences alike, Jazz Port Townsend is a much-anticipated opportunity to delight in jazz in an absolutely gorgeous and serene setting. Now in its 43rd year, the three-day event is recognized as one of the country’s foremost jazz festivals. It is held at small Port Townsend clubs, as well as at the grand pavilion, which accommodates audiences of up to 1,200 listeners. Following long-standing festival tradition, visiting and resident artists teach workshops and master classes in various venues as part of the event.
Brought to life under the stewardship of Artistic Director John Clayton, Jazz Port Townsend presents many world-renowned national and local artists who embody the workshop faculty and are also featured as festival headliners. All main concerts take place at McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden State Park.
Vocalist Niki Haris takes the stage on Friday evening, accompanied by her ensemble with bassist and Jazz Port Townsend faculty member Jon Hamar, pianist Sullivan Fortner, drummer Joe La Barbera, and special guest trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, best known for his work with Jazz at Lincoln Center. The evening’s subsequent concert spotlights young piano sensation Justin Kauflin, who was mentored by the legendary Clark Terry and featured in a recent documentary movie, with Doug Weiss on bass and famed Blue Note artist Kendrick Scott on drums.
Tia Fuller, saxophonist, composer, educator, and member of Beyoncé’s all-female touring band, shares the stage on Saturday afternoon with Sullivan Fortner on piano, Doug Weiss on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums. Appearing next is vocal showcase Lifting Voices with Cedric Dent, Dee Daniels, and Niki Haris, followed by Big Baaaad Band: Centrum All Star Big Band.
Saturday’s banner concert spotlights flutist and Jazz Master Hubert Laws. Laws joins forces with Grammy Award-winner Bill Cunliffe, piano, Artistic Director John Clayton, bass, and the inventive Matt Wilson, drums. “Hello Pops — A Tribute to Louis Armstrong,” featuring Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, trumpet, and vocals, lights up the second set. Dazzling the audience with their captivating interplay and rhythmic precision, the ensemble also includes the NYC-based multi-instrumentalist Adrian Cunningham on clarinet and saxophone, Grammy-winning trumpeter Sean Jones, New York-based trumpet master Terell Stafford, accomplished pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Martin Wind, and the great Jeff Hamilton on drums.
Jazz in the Clubs, an integral aspect of the festival, is a movable feast of great music in various downtown venues, with each venue operating on a first-come, first-served basis. An all-night access pass allows jazz lovers to move around throughout the evening to gain the full benefit of the clubs experience.
Jazz Port Townsend Student Workshop, led by John Clayton, is the summer jazz camp designed to take students to the next level of musicianship and is open to participants high school-aged and above. Whether you are a journeyman performer, aspiring professional, or an enthusiastic beginner, you’ll find colleagues who are the perfect fit for you to make music with.
For more details, including how to register for workshops and purchase tickets, visit centrum.org/jazz-port-townsend-performances