|Relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline at Jersey City’s family-friendly festivals. Catch free outdoor performances by world-famous musicians, plus children’s activities, food trucks, beer gardens, art exhibitions, vendors, and more.
The fifth annual Riverview Jazz Festival is back and bigger than ever, with two free all-day concerts in Jersey City, and dozens of other events throughout Hudson County.
The week-long festival is bookended by the free outdoor blowouts, at riverside sites offering gorgeous views of the Hudson River and Manhattan. These major events feature all-day concerts starting at noon on June 3 and June 10, in Jersey City. In between, there will be about 30 other events, concerts and gigs throughout the county, presenting some of today’s best players in jazz and salsa music.
“Jersey City is among the most diverse areas in the country. About half the artists we’re presenting live around here,” says Bryan Beninghove, the executive director of the nonprofit RiverviewJazz.org. “It’s a great time to be in this area. People are taking chances, opening new businesses and presenting live music in many places.”
The music-filled week-long fest starts at noon on June 3, with the URBY RJF Kick-off Festival, where there will be breath-taking views to go with the smokin’ sounds. The event is held on the Mack-Cali parking lot of the URBY Jersey City residential community, close to the Hudson River at 3 Second Street, providing a stunning Manhattan cityscape as a backdrop to the day’s festivities. Everyone is welcome to relax and enjoy a packed program of music. No one has to miss a note while checking out the unique items offered by a variety of vendors; there’s also a children’s tent, plus an array of food trucks, a beer garden and more. This combination guarantees a good time will be had by all at this URBY-sponsored event.
The June 3 lineup includes:
Guitarist Mark Whitfield:
It’s hard to think of anyone he hasn’t played and collaborated with across every genre, starting with his teacher and mentor George Benson. Mark has put out more than a dozen albums as a leader, and has worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Mary J. Blige, Wynton Marsalis, Sting, Herbie Hancock and Chaka Khan, to name just a few.
Lakecia Benjamin & Soul Squad:
Here’s a saxophonist with an energy level even the young James Brown may have envied. Besides playing President Obama’s inaugural ball, Lakecia has appeared with straight-ahead jazz greats including Clark Terry, avant-gardists like David Murray, and pop stars such as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and the Roots. With her funk-soul band, Soul Squad, Lakecia can be counted on to bring listeners to their feet. “We’ve been trying to get her here for years,” Bryan Beninghove notes.
NY Mambo All-Stars:
By the time NY Mambo All-Stars’ musical director John “Dandy” Rodriguez was 17 years old, he was already such an accomplished percussionist that he was in the esteemed Tito Puente Orchestra. John spent more than 30 years with Puente’s bands, and also performed with the likes of Ray Barretto, Tito Rodriguez and other Latin music icons. He was a founding member of the Latin Giants Orchestra, as well as Tipica 73, and is recognized as a percussion and Latin music innovator.
The following Saturday, June 10, the Riverview Jazz Festival week supplies another full day of fun family festivities starting at noon at Riverview Fisk Park in Jersey City. This time, the array of amazing entertainment will be presented on two stages, for listeners’ enjoyment. All of the other important elements will be on hand once again: stunning views of the river and skyline, tempting treats from food trucks, activities for children, a beer garden for adults, and vendors well-stocked with one-of-a-kind finds. There’s plenty of room to stretch out on blankets or lawn chairs and soak up the fun.
The June 10 concert lineup includes:
The Snarky Horns:
The horn section from the three-time Grammy-winning band Snarky Puppy offers an exciting mash-up of jazz, funk, R&B, world music, pop and more. Don’t call this critically acclaimed ensemble a jam band or a fusion band, but don’t be surprised to hear some of those elements.
This vocalist/arranger/composer/educator recently released an album of Gil Scott-Heron’s music that showed up on the top 10 lists of more than a few jazz journalists. Charenee has recorded with such diverse artists as Bobby Sanabria, Matt Wilson, Oscar Perez, Rufus Reid and Aaron Diehl, and can always be counted on to make her own unique statement.
International Jazz Quartet featuring Jimmy Cobb:
At 88 years old, drummer Jimmy Cobb has a whole world of American music in his hands. The NEA Jazz Master secured his place in history with Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but also accompanied the likes of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Wes Montgomery and countless others. “Jimmy Cobb has played so much great music, and he just keeps sounding better and better,” notes Bryan Beninghove.
The Fania Project:
Featuring Latin artists associated with the ground-breaking Fania record label of the 1960s and 1970s, under the direction of percussionist John “Dandy” Rodriguez.
Also scheduled to perform June 10 are Ted Chubb, Camille Thurman; Moore's Lounge All-Stars featuring Wycliffe Gordon, under the direction of Winard Harper; Beninghove's Hangmen, Stephane Wrembel, and DJ Prestige.
Among the other festival events are: Leni Stern at Fox and Crow on June 3; Charlie Apicella & Iron City at Riverview Farmers’ Market at noon on June 4; and Manouche Bag at Madame Claude Bis, June 6 and June 8. For a full lineup of the dozens of other concerts and events at the fifth annual Riverview Jazz Festival, keep an eye on RiverviewJazz.org for regular updates.
“Our goal is to further jazz, further live music. We want to shine a light on people doing live music in the area, and to let listeners know what’s available so close to home,” says Bryan Beninghove. “We’re not pushing an agenda, we want to reach people with different kinds of music, and great players from different genres.”
Admission is free to both of the bookend concerts scheduled for June 3 and June 10. However, a limited number of VIP passes are available for $95 donation. VIP ticket-holders will receive a free T-shirt, admission to VIP tents at both flagship concerts, food and cocktails supplied by local restaurants, meet-the-artist opportunities, and more. The tickets are offered as part of a fund-raising initiative supporting year-round programming produced by RiverviewJazz.org.
The Riverview Jazz Festival is made possible in part by Mayor Steven M. Fulop, the Jersey City Municipal Council, and the Office of Cultural Affairs; our media sponsor, The Hudson Reporter; URBY, Hudson Kitchen, and AJB Events.
This program is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division of the Department of State, and administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive; and the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders.