“Best Small Jazz Festival in America”

For jazz lovers across Maryland and beyond, Labor Day weekend means one thing: The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival.

Monty Alexander photograph courtesy of Joe Martinez.

Back for its 10th year, the “best small jazz festival in America” will be held Friday, August 30 through Sunday, September 1 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. As an added bonus, there’ll be a Sunday morning jazz brunch at Hunter’s Tavern, located at the Tidewater Inn.

Vocalist and guitarist, Allan Harris kicks off the festivities on Friday, August 30 at 8 p.m. The fun continues into the weekend with a free community concert on Saturday at 11 a.m., showcasing guitarists Dan Wilson and Randy Napoleon. Pianist Matthew Whitaker returns to the Avalon stage to delight festival-goers with a 2 p.m. performance, followed by the eponymous headliner, Monty Alexander, at 8 p.m. Sunday’s program begins with a brunch at Hunter’s Tavern, featuring Wilson and Napoleon, followed by pianist Cyrus Chestnut at 2 p.m., at the Avalon.

Allan Harris

The inaugural Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, held in 2010, featured two shows: saxophonist Grace Kelly on its opening night and Monty’s headlining performance the following evening. Since then, the number of performances throughout the weekend-long program has dramatically increased. Similarly, the popularity of the festival continues to rise with weekend passes and single performance tickets selling out faster and faster each year.

Three years ago, the festival established a free community concert in an effort to introduce people to a genre of music they might otherwise dismiss.

“I have regarded jazz as a misunderstood music,” says Al Sikes, Festival Producer. “So, by opening jazz up as widely as we possibly can, I think we’re … showing [the community] what the music is about.”

While the festival undoubtedly brings an economic boost to Easton, Al’s focus remains on the music.

“Jazz is America’s gift to the world and the raison d’être of The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival,” he says. “The festival … celebrates tradition as well as new expressions that draw on the extraordinary legacy left by earlier generations.”

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is partially underwritten by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Is a proud member of Discover Easton. For more information on Discover Easton, visit www.discovereaston.com.

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