This year, the Kentucky Heritage Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Family Wealth Group, celebrates its 10th anniversary with concerts at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and Old Fort Harrod State Park as well as the Beaumont Inn. In addition, the Mercer County Public Library (109 West Lexington Street) is offering one more swing dance lesson Friday, Sept. 15, starting at 6 p.m. The library will also hosting the Bee’s Knees Jubilee featuring the hot jazz of the Walnut Street Ramblers on Friday, Sept. 22. For more information, call 859-734-3680 or visit mcplib.info.
Saturday, Sept. 16
The Jazz Festival opens at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill (3501 Lexington Road) at noon on Saturday, Sept. 16. Two days of free jazz kick off with Schnitzel Blitz, a five-piece band from Lexington led by saxophonist David Maynard.
They’re followed by the Campbellsville University Faculty Jazz Band at 2 p.m. A crowd favorite, the ensemble features Saulo Moura on piano and bass, Denis Santos on sax and flute and Chad Ford on percussion. Moura has performed with some of the finest bossa-nova, jazz, and samba musicians in Brazil and Europe, as well as in the cello section of the Brazilian National Symphony Orchestra. Santos, a native of Ceará, Brazil, has participated in several groups and ensembles such as Bellas Artes Quintet, Camerata da Unifor, and Eleazar de Carvalho Chamber Orchestra. In 2011, he formed the Almeida Duo, which captivated audiences in Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and throughout the USA. In addition to performing in the Almedia Duo, Horn has performed throughout the United States, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Japan, South Korea and Trinidad.
Renowned jazz educator and saxophonist Jamey Aebersold and his quartet are scheduled to perform at 3:45 p.m. Aebersold received the 2014 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy. For over 60 years, he has been a leader in jazz improvisation and education, leading summer workshops in seven countries, while his website, Jazzbooks.com, has produced 133 book/audio Play-A-Longs. Aebersold’s quartet consists of Doug Elmore on upright bass, Jonathan Higgins on drums and Wade Honey on piano.
New this year is Spherical Agenda, a jazz-rock fusion band from Cincinnati, who are scheduled to perform at 6 p.m. Spherical Agenda features Matt Wiles on bass, Brandon Coleman on guitar, Ben Tweedt on keyboards and Devon Leigh on drums, musicians who have performed with the Snarky Horns, the Drifters, Fareed Haque, the Grammy-nominated Dan Pugach Nonet and Sam Blakelsee Quintet and Large Ensembles. Their recording credits include the “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” sound track and the upcoming “For the Love of King,” a compilation series by the Bootsy Collins Foundation benefiting the restoration of historic King Records.
Saturday’s headliner will be BiGG SuGG and the JaZZ Funkers, who are scheduled to take the stage at 8 p.m. Featuring Matthew Polashek on sax and Dane Sadler on guitar, the JaZZ Funkers were a big hit at last year’s festival.
Sunday, Sept. 17Sunday’s festival kicks off with multi-instrumentalist David Hall, who is scheduled to start at noon. Hall plays saxophones, clarinet, flute, flugelhorn, trumpet, steel pan drum, harmonica and keyboards with acts including the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Drifters, Percy Sledge, the Lexington Philharmonic and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Band among many others.
Returning this year is the Capriccio Columbus Choral Group with Jazz Combo, led by Harrodsburg native Larry Griffin. The choral group last performed at the Kentucky Heritage Jazz Festival in 2015. Starting at 1 p.m., they will perform Will Todd’s “Mass in Blue.”
Sundays at the Jazz Festival are traditionally for college bands. That’s the story again this year, beginning with the Asbury University Jazz Band led by Glen Flanigan scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The Transylvania University Jazz Band performs at 3:25 p.m. followed by the Eastern Kentucky University Jazz Band at 4:20 p.m. The Morehead State University Jazz Band, led by Ryan McGillicuddy, will close things out at Shakertown starting at 5:15 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 21
On Thursday, Sept. 21, Blue Groove Jazz—and guest—will perform a “Concert on the Lawn” at Beaumont Inn (638 Beaumont Inn Drive) from 5 to 7 p.m. The band is led by saxophonist Sam Carr backed by Eben Henson on drums, Pete McCaffery on bass and Mark Gardner on keyboards.
Friday, Sept. 22
The Walnut Street Ramblers will be cutting the rug at the The “Bee’s Knees Jubilee” at the Mercer County Public Library from 6 to 8 p.m. The library will host a special swing dance lesson at 6 p.m. before the Ramblers start at 6:30 p.m. Organizers say swing dance groups from Danville, Lexington and Louisville have been invited to perform. In addition, there will be a Roaring Twenties costume contest. The Ramblers were formed in 2006 and have played at the Great American Brass Band Festival, and Shakertown and internationally. They play ragtime; New Orleans traditional jazz and hot 1920s music.
Saturday, Sept. 23
The Kentucky Heritage Jazz Festival returns to Old Fort Harrod State Park (100 South College Street) on Saturday, Sept. 23, from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 24, from noon to 6 p.m.
Saturday starts with Blue Groove Jazz, who are scheduled to begin playing at noon, followed by Paladin led by New Orleans trumpeter James Millard Poole III, at 1:30 p.m. TheCelebrate 10 years of the
Kentucky Heritage Jazz Festival rhythm section of Paladin consists of drummer Brehnan Miller, a Harrodsburg native, bassist Tom Covello, and keyboardist Mark Gardner.
Returning favorites the Sofia Goodman Group are scheduled to play at 3:15 p.m. A jazz fusion band based in Nashville, they have performed at festivals like The Elkhart Jazz Fest, The Alex City Jazz Fest, USM Jazz and Blues Fest, West Georgia Jazz Fest and Jazz on the Point. In 2018, they released their debut album “Myriad of Flowers” and in 2019, the album was nominated by NIMA for Best Jazz Album. Goodman has also been nominated by NIMA as Best Jazz Instrumentalist.
The Brook Giles Band at 5 p.m. Giles, a saxophonist and vocalist, Brooks has toured internationally and performed with the Drifters and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and many others. He is backed by Clay Moore on guitar, Winton Reynolds on keyboards, Tom Covello on bass and Kiko Sebrian on drums.
New this year is Destiny L and the Chasing Dreams Band who are scheduled to play at 6:45 p.m. An international recording artist and singer/songwriter, Destiny L has opened for artists such as Musiq Soulchild, Warren G and Bobby Valinto. She sang the National Anthem at Paycor Stadium for the Cincinnati Bengals last year and has two singles out on streaming called “Numb” and “Spacetime.”
Saturday’s headliner is Adrian Crutchfield, the last saxophonist to play with Prince, who is scheduled to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. Crutchfield Adrian played on Prince’s 2017 Grammy-nominated album Hit-N-Run Phase 2 and has backed musicians including Lionel Richie, Bette Midler, Ceelo Green and the Gap Band.
Sunday kicks off with the Upbeats at noon. The Upbeats feature The Upbeats feature Molly McCormack on vocals along with Barry Glick on guitar, John Scharfenberger on bass and Mark “Bones” Webb on drums.
The Alan Robinson Trio perform at 1:30 p.m. Another new act, the trio includes guitarist Alan Robinson, an assistant professor of music at Belmont University in Nashville, with bassist Saulo Moura and percussionist Chad Floyd also from Campbellsville University’s music faculty.
The Bluegrass Area Jazz Ambassadors, a 20-piece big band of community musicians and students from the University of Kentucky School of Music’s Jazz Studies Program led by Artistic Director Miles Osland and Musical Director David Hummel. The Jazz Ambassadors are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. with the University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble closing out the festival starting at 5 p.m.
Organizers are stressing that both weekends are kid and pet friendly. Pop up tents are welcome. Spectators are advised to bring lawn chairs. Food trucks will be set up at all events.
For more information, visit kyheritagejazzfest.org.