Music

Blue Note Jazz Festival Unveils 2024 Lineup — Including a Historic Return for Wynton Marsalis

Some history will be made, and rekindled, during this year’s 13th annual Blue Note Jazz Festival.

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The five-week parade of concerts begins on June 1 and will encompass 94 performances by nearly four dozen acts at five venues — primarily the Blue Note club itself in New York City’s Greenwich Village, as well as Sony Hall, the Brooklyn Bowl, Town Hall, Central Park SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell.

Alex Kurland, Blue Note’s director of programming, promises that festivalgoers will not be lacking for variety.

“Jazz is very much the guiding force at Blue Note, but we’re not stuck in a box or restricted about genre-specific programming,” Kurland explains. “It’s very open. The inspiration of jazz runs through so much music and so much creative culture in general, so we’re really just embracing all this really special artistry. Jazz represents freedom, and that’s really where we’re leaning towards.”

To that end the festival lineup features a dizzying amount of diversity during its run. But the major news is, in fact, about a jazz artist: trumpet legend Wynton Marsalis will be returning to the 200-seat Blue Note as a bandleader for the first time since 1991. Marsalis will perform 12 shows across six nights (June 11-16) with his regular Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and with the Future of Jazz Septet.

“I’m so excited to be back at the Blue Note after all these years,” Marsalis tells Billboard in a statement. “One of the fondest memories of my career is being in the Blue Note with Dizzy (Gillespie), Sweets Edison and Clark Terry going to see Freddie Hubbard.”

The shows are part of a new collaboration between the Blue Note and Jazz at Lincoln Center, where Marsalis is the managing and artistic director of jazz. It will also bring performances by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Big Band, directed by Julius Tolentino, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra, directed by Tatum Greenblatt, on June 15-16, respectively.

“This is a very historic presentation of Wynton, one of our proudest presentations of the month,” Kurland says. “This is a landmark kind of reunion between Wynton and the Blue Note; he’s played the Blue Note since the opening of the venue, but not as a leader since he began his curation of Jazz at Lincoln Center. It will be unique for him to play in a tiny space. We feel very honored.

“We are all about collaboration and partnership,” Kurland adds. “A lot of that occurs on the stage, but on business and branding and presentation side, we love to partner with different organizations to have these special moments, and working with Jazz at Lincoln Center makes a lot of sense.”

The venues for the four other headliners — Andra Day on opening night, June 1, followed by Corinne Bailey Rae on June 16, British drummer Yussef Dayes on June 22 and the Ezra Collective closing the festival on July 7 – will be announced later this month.

Other intriguing team-ups during the festival include Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, who’s long incorporated jazz in his mixes, double-billed with New Orleans’ Soul Rebels for three nights (June 21-23) at the Blue Note. At the Sony Hall: Jazz Is Dead performs June 9; Yo La Tengo teams up the Sun Ra Arkestra on June 15; James Brown/Parliament-Funkadelic trombonist Fred Wesley makes a rare appearance on the same bill as the Brecker Brothers on June 21; and Antibalas pairs with Hailu Mergia on June 22.

Other Blue Note festival residencies include New Orleans’ Soullive for six nights; drummer Julius Rodriguez and Crescent City trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah will be there for four nights each; and bassist and bandleader Derrick Hodge and Ozomatli for three each. Stanley Clarke will perform June 25-26 at Sony Hall, and Yes/King Crimson veteran Bill Bruford is journeying from England for a June 29 ProgJect show at the same venue.

A strong corps of other vocalists, meanwhile, also includes Lisa Fischer and Gino Vannelli. The festival lineup also includes eight Blue Note brunch concerts on Sundays and one Saturday show devoted to the Buena Vista Social Club’s music on June 8.

“When you’re looking to book amazing, great artists you’re drawing from the global landscape, so that’s very glaring in the lineup,” Kurland says. “There are definitely a lot of innovative artists who are very contemporary; that’s always important for the Blue Note, to have such a progressive edge. Then you have the great icons, the legends…and hopefully you’re giving people a sense of the great range of that’s available.”

More details about the festival can be found here. The full 2024 Blue Note Jazz Festival lineup includes:

June 1—Soulive—Blue Note
June 1—Andra Day—Venue TBD
June 2—Soulive—Blue Note
June 2—Harlem Gospel Choir—Blue Note Brunch
June 2—Paula Cole—Sony Hall
June 3—Derrick Hodge—Blue Note
June 4—Derrick Hodge—Blue Note
June 5—Derrick Hodge—Blue Note
June 5—Lisa Fischer—Sony Hall
June 6—Soulive—Blue Note
June 7—Soulive—Blue Note
June 7—Michel Camilo—Sony Hall
June 7—ALJO with Hamilton de Holanda and Yamandu Cost—Town Hall
June 8—Soulive—Blue Note
June 8—The Music of The Buena Vista Social Club—Blue Note Brunch
June 9—Soulive—Blue Note
June 9—Jazz is Dead—Sony Hall
June 9—Harlem Gospel Choir—Blue Note Brunch
June 10—Brandee Younger—Blue Note
June 11—The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis—Blue Note
June 12—The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis—Blue Note
June 12—Yemi Alade—Sony Hall
June 13—The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis—Blue Note
June 14—Jazz at Lincoln Center presents Wynton Marsalis
with The Future of Jazz Septet—Blue Note
June 14—Eliane Elias—Sony Hall
June 15—Jazz at Lincoln Center presents Wynton Marsalis
with The Future of Jazz Septet—Blue Note
June 15—Yo La Tengo with the Sun Ra Arkestra—Sony Hall
June 15—Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra—Blue Note Brunch
June 16—Jazz at Lincoln Center presents Wynton Marsalis
with The Future of Jazz Septet—Blue Note
June 16—Victor Wooten—Sony Hall
June 16—Corinne Bailey Rae—Venue TBD
June 16—Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra—Blue Note Brunch
June 17—Julius Rodriguez—Blue Note
June 17— Haley Reinhart—Sony Hall
June 18—Julius Rodriguez—Blue Note
June 19—Julius Rodriguez—Blue Note
June 19— Mulatu Astatke—Sony Hall
June 20—Julius Rodriguez—Blue Note
June 20— Mulatu Astatke—Sony Hall
June 21—Ghostface Killah with The Soul Rebels—Blue Note
June 21—Fred Wesley with The Brecker Brothers—Sony Hall
June 22—Ghostface Killah with The Soul Rebels—Blue Note
June 22—Antibalas with Hailu Mergia—Sony Hall
June 22—Yussef Dayes—Venue TBD
June 23—Ghostface Killah with The Soul Rebels—Blue Note
June 23—Harlem Gospel Choir—Blue Note Brunch
June 24—Ozomatli—Blue Note
June 25—Ozomatli—Blue Note
June 25—Stanley Clarke—Sony Hall
June 26—Ozomatli—Blue Note
June 26—Stanley Clarke—Sony Hall
June 27—Chief Adjuah—Blue Note
June 27—Gino Vanelli—Sony Hall
June 28—Chief Adjuah—Blue Note
June 28—Bombino with Etran De L’Air—Sony Hall
June 28—Os Mutantes—Brooklyn Bowl
June 29—Chief Adjuah—Blue Note
June 29—ProgJect with Bill Bruford—Sony Hall
June 29—Brass Queens—Blue Note Brunch
June 30—Chief Adjuah—Blue Note
June 30—Harlem Gospel Choir—Blue Note Brunch
July 1—Joey Alexander—Blue Note
July 7—Ezra Collective—Venue TBD

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