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The 2022 Montclair Jazz Festival will feature Immanuel Wilkins, Danielle Ponder, Artemis & more

Montclair Jazz Festival Downtown Jamboree 2021
Neil Grabowsky
courtesy of the Montclair Jazz Festival

Now in its 13th year, the Montclair Jazz Festival has grown into one of the most vibrant musical gatherings in the New York and New Jersey metro area — thanks in no small part to the addition of a flagship event, the Downtown Jamboree.

Last year, the Jamboree brought an estimated 25,000 people to a half-mile stretch of Bloomfield Avenue, the town's main artery. "Mounting that size and scale of a festival in a pandemic, following weeks of rain and flooding from Ida, felt impossible," Melissa Walker, the founder and president of Jazz House Kids, told NorthJersey.com in the afterglow of the historic event. "Even that very day, it felt impossible. But it surpassed all expectations, all dreams. It was a glorious day, beyond our wildest imaginings."

The 2022 Downtown Jamboree, to be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, promises to meet or exceed that new standard, with two headliner stages and two street stages running all day. As before, admission will be free, with a suggested donation of $10. Beach and lawn chairs will be welcome, while tents and beach umbrellas are prohibited.

Melissa Walker, Christian McBride and Nate Smith at the 2021 Montclair Jazz Festival
courtesy of the Montclair Jazz Festival

Bassist, composer and Jazz House Kids artistic director Christian McBride — who also happens to be the host of Jazz Night in America — will return to the festival with a special all-star band. Also on the bill are the prominent young alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, and keyboard wunderkind Matthew Whitaker. The singer Danielle Ponder will deliver a dose of modern soul, while Rachel Z and Omar Hakim will bring a jolt of funk and fusion. Rounding out the bill are three co-ops: Artemis, The Cookers and the festival's own Jazz House Collective.

Christian McBride at Montclair Jazz Festival 2021
Tony Turner
courtesy of the Montclair Jazz Festival
Christian McBride at the 2021 Montclair Jazz Festival Downtown Jamboree

The festival has also announced an after-party, featuring DJ Logic, at The Wellmont, from 9 p.m. to midnight.

For those who can't wait for September to get their Montclair Jazz fix, take note: the festival's Soundcheck series, hosted by Montclair Center BID, has two dates around the corner. The first, on July 13, will feature Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith, along with Birsa Chatterjee, a saxophonist and vocalist who came up through Jazz House Kids as a student, and now serves as its Education Program Coordinator. And on July 27, organist Akiko Tsuruga will headline, after an opening set by trumpeter Wallace Roney, Jr.

A separate event, the Lackawanna Block Party, is set for Aug. 13, with DJ Brother Mister (aka Mr. McBride), the Nicole Glover Quartet, and Winard Harper with Jeli Posse.

For more information about the Montclair Jazz Festival, visit montclairjazzfestival.org.