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Lowertown, Saint Paul, MN

Lowertown Landing is dedicated to supporting the continued growth and rejuvenation of the Lowertown historic district of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival


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Twin Cities Jazz Festival

  • Mears Park 221 E 5th St St. Paul, MN 55101 (map)

Check out the full schedule here

One of the largest civic events in the Midwest, the 16th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival promises to be the biggest and most exciting gathering of jazz artists and jazz fans ever assembled in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro. Running June 26-28 in and around Mears Park in Saint Paul's historic Lowertown neighborhood, the festival expects to draw over 30,000 people of all ages to experience the joy of jazz on four outdoor stages and at more than 30 indoor venues. Once again, Jazz Festival Executive Director Steve Heckler has organized a line-up of stellar national acts as well as a diverse mix of outstanding local and regional artists. Headliners include Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves and NEA Jazz MasterBranford Marsalis, along with 2013 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition winner Melissa Aldana,  New Orleans "Big Easy Award"-winning keyboardist Joe Krown with Walter Wolfman Washington, famed Latin Swing guitarist Lulo Reinhardt, and recent Minnesota transplant, acclaimed percussionist Babatunde Lea.

"We're thrilled to have headliners of this caliber for 2014," said Heckler. "Branford Marsalis has won three Grammy Awards and a Tony nomination, and just a couple years ago, Branford's family--with father Ellis and brothers Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason--was named NEA Jazz Master. His last CD (4 MFs Playing Tunes) was nominated for a 2014 Grammy." Booking Dianne Reeves was another coup. "Dianne Reeves is the only vocal artist to earn three consecutive Grammies (in 2001-2003)," noted Heckler, "and then she won another in 2006. Her new recording (Beautiful Life) includes some original songs and is getting rave reviews." One of the youngest musicians to headline the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, 24-year-old Melissa Aldana won the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, the first woman instrumentalist to win any of the Monk top honors in the 26-year history of the prestigious competition. A native ofSantiago, Chile, Aldana comes to Saint Paul with her "Crash" Trio, including past festival favorite, drummer Francisco Mela. Three-time winner of New Orleans' "Big Easy Award," Joe Krownhas appeared frequently at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. His volcanic trio includes NOLA legendary guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington and a favorite native son, drummer Russell Batiste, Jr. One of the foremost voices in Gypsy music today, Lulo Reinhardt comes from a long line of music masters including his Great Uncle, guitar legend, Django Reinhardt and his Uncle and violin master Shnuckenack Reinhardt. With his Latin Swing Project, he explores a fusion of gypsy, flamenco, Latin and Brazilian jazz. A long-time Bay Area resident, percussionist Babatunde Lea played with Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Leon Thomas and Oscar Brown, Jr. He recently moved to the metro area and has appeared at the Artists’ Quarter, Black Dog, and Studio Z.

Jazz Fest will have a pre-festival tune-up at Highland Village Wednesday, June 25 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Enjoy popular Debbie Duncan and the Jazz Central All Stars in the Langford & Karls Chiropractic Clinic parking lot at 730 Cleveland Avenue South (southeast corner of Cleveland and Highland Parkway). The concert sponsored by the Highland District Council and the Highland Business Association. Admission to this concert (and all outdoor Jazz Fest stages) is free.

Officially, the festival launches on Thursday night (June 26) with the annual Jazz Night Out, an evening of nonstop music throughout Lowertown and beyond, from the Mears Park Stage to clubs, bars, restaurants and other music spaces within a few blocks to spots along West 7th Street and, new this year, the Green Line Jazz Stops along the Light Rail corridor of University Avenue. New on the weekend schedule will be a relocated and expanded tpt Stage at Union Depot, a Piano Jazz Stage at Studio Z (Friday and Saturday), a revamped Vocal Jazz Showcase ("Voco-Motion") featuring the Wolverines Trio on the tpt Stage at the Union Depot (Saturday), and an extended Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Prince Street Stage (now Friday as well as Saturday). Festival workshops at McNally Smith College of Music (Branford Marsalis and Joe Krown) and at Studio Z (Babatunde Lea) will be open to all (and free). Festival weekend includes food and beverage options in and around Mears Park along with many sponsor and vendor booths "We've been blessed with a generous group of sponsors this year," notes Heckler. "Each of our four outdoor stages has a major sponsor -- HealthPartners (Main Stage at Mears Park), MyTalk 107.1 (6th St.

Stage at Mears Park), tpt (Stage at Union Depot), and the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education (Prince Street Stage)."

Jazz Fest is again collaborating with the Saint Paul Library system for the fourth annual "Jazz in the Library" concerts bringing top jazz talents to three community libraries. Libraries participating this year include the downtown Central Library (Joan Griffith's Sambanova on June 8), St. Anthony Park (Bryan Nichols Quartet on June 18), and Arlington Hills (Très Mundos on June 25).

And promoting jazz and the festival with music in six greater Minnesota cities, the Jefferson Lines Jazz Central All-Stars' "Tour de Minnesota" started in Austin at the Paramount Theater (May 16) and will conclude in Faribault on September 25, with stops in-between in Luverne, Montevideo, Sauk Centre and St. James.

With the launch of light rail in Saint Paul two weeks before the festival, transportation will be easier than ever with free rides on Metro Transit buses and light rail on Friday and Saturday; download a free pass at  And for those who can't make it to the festival grounds, KBEM Jazz 88 radio will broadcast from the festival.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and our other generous sponsors HealthPartners, MyTalk 107.1, tpt, Saint Paul STAR, McNally Smith, Lowertown Entertainment District, Travelers and Jefferson Lines.