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Photo Gallery: The 2023 Montclair Jazz Festival

The Montclair Jazz Festival, now in its 14th year, took over the downtown of Montclair, N.J., for its free Downtown Jubilee on Saturday, September 9. With four stages spread around Bloomfield Avenue, the festival presented a robust schedule of artists, from students to emerging artists to established headliners. There was only one small hitch—a massive thunderstorm that appeared mid-day and forced a sudden evacuation of the scene by audience, performers and crew. Somehow, the festival team managed to clear the scene and protect the equipment (and the artists) while the storm raged. When the storm subsided a few hours later, the festival miraculously came back to life. And the audience not only returned, but came back in even larger numbers. A few of the acts had to be cancelled, but most were able to perform during the rest of the day and into the night. The festival announced an attendance of over 17,000 people, a record number for the event.

Among the performers were Michael Mwenso & the Shakes, Person to Person featuring Eric Person and Houston Person, Melanie Charles, Regina Carter, and Antibalas, as well as artistic director Christian McBride with his New Jawn group. The event, which is produced by Jazz House Kids, also presented its faculty group (who performed the music of Dexter Gordon) and the Jazz House All-Stars, consisting of recent alumni of the heralded education program. Comedian Alonzo Bodden, known for his appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, emceed one stage, while singer and radio host Andromeda Turre handled host duties at the other stage. Linda Moody, widow of jazz great James Moody, presented Mecadon McCune with the James Moody jazz Scholarship for New Jersey.

Our photographers, Jonathan Chimene and Anthony Nieves, were there for all of it come rain or shine and shared this gallery of images of the performers on the two main stages.

Long time music lover and WBGO listener, Jonathan proudly joined the WBGO team in Mid 2018.  He is a former collegiate and tournament tennis player – with international experience both as a player and a coach. Jonathan is a published photographer, who enjoys checking out jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world, and is a life-long, die-hard New York Mets fan. Raised in Central NJ but  after a long stint in Chicago, he has resided in Brooklyn for the past two decades.
Anthony is a multimedia specialist born and raised in Newark NJ. He graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in television and digital media, and a concentration in audio and sound design. He is a music lover who has been a part of WBGO since 2018, starting as an intern. He caught the bug for photography when received his first DSLR from one of the staff at the station. Since then, he has been filling up hard drives with pictures of the many events he has the pleasure of going to.