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NJPAC announces lineup for 2024/2025 jazz season

Herbie Hancock at the Newport Jazz Festival
Jonathan Chimene
Herbie Hancock at the Newport Jazz Festival

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has announced the lineup for its 2024/2025 jazz season that will kick off on September 29, 2024 with a performance by Herbie Hancock. A week later on October 6, Meshell Ndegeocello appears for the first time at NJPAC with music from her Blue Note album, No More Water: The Gospel of James Baldwin, in which she explores the legacy of writer James Baldwin in a show that is part church service, celebration, testimonial and call to action. On November 15, the Tyshawn Sorey Trio (featuring pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Harish Raghavan), and Sandbox Percussion (featuring Ian RosenbaumJonny AllenTerry Sweeney and Victor Caccese) pay tribute to the legendary Max Roach. The two groups will also perform together in the East Coast premiere of a new work co-commissioned by NJPAC, a through-composed multi-movement piece celebrating Roach’s groundbreaking M’Boom ensemble.

Vocalist Madeleine Peyroux performs on November 16, followed by a concert on November 22 by John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell in a show called BILLIE & BLUE EYES, paying tribute to vocal greats Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. That same night, Stanley Clarke will make his NJPAC debut with a very special performance of the music of the soundtrack to John Singleton’s iconic film Boyz n the Hood. Clarke will play bass and lead an orchestra accompanying a screening of the 1991 film.

The Jazz Vespers series at Bethany Baptist in Newark celebrates its 25th anniversary with a concert on November 21 featuring Nat Adderley Jr. (music director/bandleader/piano), Jon Faddis, Vanessa Rubin and Lizz Wright. On November 23, hot jazz guitarist Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars, featuring Schmitt with sons Samson and Amati and cousins Francko Mehrstein and Gino Roman, perform the music associated with legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. That same night Christian McBride, NJPAC’s jazz advisor, leads his Big Band in a performance featuring contemporary vocal greats Philip Bailey, Lisa Fischer and Dianne Reeves.

McBride and Fischer return to serve as judges—along with Peyroux, Terri Lyne Carrington and Bill Charlap—for the 13th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, hosted by WBGO’s own Sheila Anderson. The event on November 24 also features a performance by 2022 competition winner Lucía Gutiérrez Rebolloso. Earlier that same day, harpist Brandee Younger brings her trio (featuring Rashaan Carter and Allan Mednard) to Dorthaan’s Place for two sets as part of the long-running Sunday jazz brunch series at NICO Kitchen + Bar curated by Newark’s First Lady of Jazz, Dorthaan Kirk.

In 2025, violinist and composer Regina Carter will present the New Jersey premiere of her work, Gone in a Phrase of Air, a journey through America’s vibrant Black neighborhoods that were demolished in the name of urban renewal. The event on March 8 features original music, historical music, spoken word poetry and visuals, as it revisits vanished communities such as Black Bottom and Paradise Valley in Carter’s hometown of Detroit; Mill Creek Valley in St. Louis; the Hayti district in Durham, North Carolina; and Chicago’s Bronzeville.

For more information about the jazz season at NJPAC, visit their website here.

Complete Schedule of Events:

Sunday, September 29   7 pm
Herbie Hancock

Sunday, October 6   7 pm
Meshell Ndegeocello | No More Water: The Gospel of James Baldwin (NJPAC debut)

Friday, November 15   7:30 pm
Tyshawn Sorey Trio (featuring Aaron Diehl and Harish Raghavan) and Sandbox Percussion  (East Coast premiere)

Saturday, November 16    7:30 pm
Madeleine Peyroux

Thursday, November 21   7:30 pm 
Bethany Baptist Jazz Vespers @ 25 Honoring Rev. M. William Howard, Jr.
Featuring Nat Adderley Jr.(music director/bandleader/piano), Jon Faddis, Vanessa Rubin and Lizz Wright

Friday, November 22  7:30 pm
John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell: BILLIE & BLUE EYES  (NJPAC duo debut)

Friday, November 22   8 pm  
Stanley Clarke Boys n the Hood (premiere)

Saturday, November 23   6 pm
Dorado Schmitt and Sons: Django Festival All-Stars

Saturday, November 23    8 pm
Philip Bailey, Lisa Fischer, Dianne Reeves and Christian McBride Big Band

Sunday, November 24 11 am/1 pm
Dorthaan’s Place: Brandee Younger Trio

Sunday, November 24   3 pm
13th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition

Saturday, March 8   7:30 pm
Regina Carter: Gone in a Phrase of Air (New Jersey premiere)

For over 27 years, Lee Mergner served as an editor and publisher of JazzTimes until his resignation in January 2018. Thereafter, Mergner continued to regularly contribute features, profiles and interviews to the publication as a contributing editor for the next 4+ years. JazzTimes, which has won numerous ASCAP-Deems Taylor awards for music journalism, was founded in 1970 and was described by the All Music Guide, as “arguably the finest jazz magazine in the world.”