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Hub City Jazz Festival Returns to New Brunswick


The Hub City Jazz Festival, a multi-day and multi-venue gathering of jazz enthusiasts from the tri-state area, will take place in downtown New Brunswick October 25-28. The Festival will feature national and international jazz musicians as well as renowned local talent. Since its inception in 2004 the Festival has included some of the top names in jazz including Boney James, Jonathan Butler, Incognito, and Maysa.

In addition to providing top jazz entertainment, the not for profit Hub City Jazz Festival has expanded its charitable outreach to promoting music education and skills training to student musicians throughout New Jersey. In support of this mission, HCJF has created a partnership with the New Brunswick District Schools. The support has provided the twenty members of The New Brunswick Public Schools District Jazz Band with after school instrument instruction, a three week summer camp program, and training in improvisation. Among the professionals who have supported this project is former Rutgers University professor Radam Schwartz, saxophonist and band leader Paula Atherton, and trumpeter Lee Hogans who has toured with Prince's band.

As a result of this partnership, The New Brunswick Public Schools District Jazz Band will take part in a music workshop conducted by iconic Tito Puente Jr. and members of his orchestra. Tito Puente has stated that "In the Latin community, although jazz music is not the most popular form of music, the interest among younger people is increasing. Basically, it's because the playing of jazz includes many elements of traditional Latin music. For student musicians, especially this next generation, improvisation is one of the most important characteristics of all music that they will learn. So, it makes considerable sense to train young musicians starting in elementary school. I'm happy to participate in this wonderful event."

Following the workshop, The New Brunswick Public Schools District Jazz Band will perform with Tito Puente Jr. and his orchestra. As expressed by Lee Neamand, Supervisor of Fine Visual and Performing Arts, New Brunswick Public Schools "Providing authentic experiences with renowned artists is critical to the development of the next generation of our jazz musicians." This concert will take place on Sat. Oct. 27 at New Brunswick High School. This event is free and open to the public.

The New Brunswick public school district consists of two high schools (New Brunswick High School and Health Sciences Technology High School), a middle school (New Brunswick Middle School) and nine elementary schools (Lincoln, Lincoln Annex, Livingston, Lord Stirling, McKinley, Redshaw, Roosevelt, Paul Robeson Community School for the Arts, and Woodrow Wilson schools). The New Brunswick Public Schools offer a comprehensive educational program for students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade and serves more than 10,000 students.

Each year attendance at the Hub City Jazz Festival has grown significantly along with community participation. This year's Festival volunteers include members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Nu Xi Omega Chapter, Progressive Chapter No. 30 The Order of the Eastern Star New Brunswick, and Central New Jersey Chapter the Links. Corporate Partners are Wells Fargo, Hyatt Regency, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, PNC Bank, New Brunswick City Market, Merrill Lynch, Altice, and Middlesex Cultural and Heritage Commission.

The first New Brunswick Jazz Festival was held in 2004 and was the brainchild of Allen McGriff, a local New Brunswick entrepreneur and Mason. The Festival was a fundraiser for the Progressive Temple Lodge and was a two day event featuring local artists including talented high school musicians. After five years the festival outgrew its original venue and expanded to a four day event attracting jazz fans from throughout the Northeast. During the first three days local and up and coming artists are showcased at restaurants throughout New Brunswick. The fourth day hosts the main event at the Hyatt Regency with a full day of entertainment provided by internationally known jazz recording artists.

In 2016 the festival began operation as The Hub City Jazz Festival, Inc. which is a 501©3 non-profit organization with the emphasis on promoting music education and experience for the young. The members of the Board are Allen McGriff, Robert T. Brunson, Monica Weeks, Marion Wingo, Candace Jones McDaniel, and Michael Davis. The Festival is proud to promote jazz as an art form and to acknowledge its cultural relevance in the field of music as well as provide financial support to charitable and cultural initiatives. The organization's motto is "Connecting great music which is food for the soul with a gift from the heart."

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