IT’S THAT TIME of year again — Fourth of July weekend — and the Fillmore Jazz Festival is back and will take over the street for the 29th year in a row.
With more than 100,000 people expected for the two-day street party, the Fillmore Jazz Festival means different things to different people. For artists, it’s an opportunity to present new material or play old favorites for hundreds or thousands of people. For many residents and festival goers, it’s a weekend to look forward to every year — a time to celebrate the best of the neighborhood’s past and present. There’s a positive, joyous vibe up and down Fillmore Street as live music flows from block to block.
This year’s lineup on the California and Sutter stages covers a lot of ground, stylistically and geographically. While both of this year’s Artists-in-Residence hail from the Bay Area, the rest of the lineup stretches from Vegas to Brooklyn to Israel and Ghana.
The Jazz Artist-in-Residence, Kim Nalley, is an acclaimed jazz and blues vocalist and a true San Francisco treasure who got her start on Fillmore and has become a fixture at the festival. She wows the crowds and stops traffic — sometimes literally — with her dynamic stage shows. An inspiring and dedicated educator as well, Nalley has a gift for storytelling — and swinging hard. She recently sold out all four shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and returns at the end of July for a week of shows at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, presenting her tribute to Billie Holliday.
World music and jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum — this year’s World Music Artist-in-Residence, grew up in Berkeley, although he has been living in Brooklyn for a couple of decades. Apfelbaum makes his Fillmore Jazz Festival debut as a leader this year. But he’s been leading bands, including his groundbreaking, genre-defying Hieroglyphics Ensemble, since he was a highschooler back in the late ’70s. His music has always been fascinating — was it jazz, world music, groove or funk? For this world-class, Grammy-nominated composer and improviser, no label is required — or maybe even possible.
Both Artists-in-Residence perform both days, and present two completely different shows — a real treat if you’re a fan or just curious why they’re in the spotlight. They both deserve the attention — as do the other artists invited to perform. If music is an important part of your life and you like discovering new music — be it jazz or world or blues and beyond — then this year’s Fillmore Jazz Festival is for you.
Filed under: Music