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Jazz Fest features renowned performers in a weekend jam-packed with entertainment


Iowa City Jazz Festival

downtown Iowa City — July 1–3, 2016

Marquis Hill, Iowa City Jazz Festival
Marquis Hill performs Saturday at Jazz Fest with the Marquis Hill Blacktet — photo via marquishill.com

Fresh off of being named one of the country’s best Jazz Festivals in 2015, the Iowa City Jazz Festival returns this weekend to invade downtown with live music and culture. A key part of Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts, it kicks off this Friday, July 1 at 4 p.m. The festival spans over three blocks downtown and is packed with arts, food and entertainment.

The performances for the weekend are split among four stages: a local stage, a college stage, a youth stage and the main stage. The Iowa City Jazz Festival has been operating since 1991 and the committee this year has again succeeded in bringing top tier talent to our community. John Kenyon, a member of the Jazz Fest Music Selection Committee, says that he considers all acts on the bill a highlight, but there were a few decorated artists in particular that he was excited about.

Vijay Iyer, Iowa City Jazz Festival
Vijay Iyer plays the mainstage of the Iowa City Jazz Festival with his trio on July 2 — photo via vijay-iyer.com

The Vijay Iyer Trio, (Saturday, 7 p.m., main stage) features New York native and Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Vijay Iyer who had a great year in 2015. Last year Iyer was named DownBeat Magazine’s artist of the year. He was also featured in an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The Marquis Hill Blacktet (Saturday, 5 p.m., main stage) features Chicagoan Marquis Hill, winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition, who Kenyon referred to as, “a young trumpeter on his ascent.” Also mentioned was The Edmar Castaneda Trio (Sunday, 4 p.m., main stage). Kenyon calls Castaneda a jazz harpist who “must be seen to be believed.”

Outside of the music, the entertainment downtown will feature a beverage garden, culinary row and various artist booths, as well as this year’s newly added FUN Zone. The Summer of the Arts committee puts on these events for eastern Iowa residents and jazz fans through the generosity of local business donations. All events are free to the public.

The Jazz Festival is still currently in need of volunteers for this upcoming weekend. If you’re interested in helping out, contact information is available on the Summer of the Arts website. The festival will finish this Sunday at 9:30 p.m. with a fireworks show that one can view while relaxing on the Pentacrest lawn.


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