Elkhart Jazz Festival 2016: Joshua Redman to be featured artist at the Lerner Theatre on opening night

March 06, 2016

Two-time Grammy nominated jazz musician Joshua Redman will be one of the featured performers at the 2016 Elkhart Jazz Festivalthis summer, organizers announced today.

The 29th annual festival, which runs from June 24 to 26 in downtown Elkhart, also will include performances by perennial favorites Dave BennettRica Obsesion and Joan Collaso among the 100 acts that will perform on the festival’s six stages.

Discounted early-bird passes will go on sale Friday and will be available online at ElkhartJazzFest.com or by calling the Lerner box office at 574-293-4469.

The Joshua Redman Quartet will be the featured performer at the Lerner on opening night, Friday, June 24. The son of the legendary Dewey Redman has been playing the saxophone professionally since the early 1990s, when he passed on Yale Law School to pursue a career in music. In addition to the Grammy Award nominations, Redman has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls from magazines including DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone.

This year’s festival has a “Set Summer to Music” theme and welcomes a number of fan favorites back to Elkhart, including Bennett, Collaso, Obsesion, Kris Brownlee, Rebecca Kilgore, and the highly acclaimed Gene Knific Trio. Collaso, who is appearing again with the Larry Hanks Trio, has performed at all but two Elkhart Jazz Festivals.

The talent lineup also includes several performers making their Elkhart debut: BMR4, The Rad Trads, Blair Clark and Derek Brown BEATBoXSAX. Also, Frank Russell and Elizabeth Mis will be featured artists for the first time.

“We’ve got some great returning artists, and we’re looking forward to a real Main Street feel this year,” said festival co-chairman Ben Decker, adding there will be more vendors and musicians outdoors along Main Street than in the past. “One thing we’re doing this year is to build some more excitement and energy in the outdoor portion of the festival. People shouldn’t stop at the Civic Plaza because there’s a lot more.”

Decker said the acts being announced today are just some of the many eclectic musicians who will perform during the festival. The headline for Saturday, June 25, will be announced later, but previous headliners have included Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Having diversity among performers is one of the reasons of the success of the festival, which draws attendees from all over the country.

“This is one of the longest-running jazz festivals,” Decker said. “It has a diverse talent lineup that features local, regional and nationally known acts. Many other jazz festivals focus on one particular genre of jazz, but we make sure we have a diverse palate. People can experience different styles that they didn’t know they liked and embrace new things as well as their favorites”

The free festival also pays tribute to local talent, including the Elkhart Community Chorus, Truth in Jazz and Jazz Assemblage, along with student bands from Indiana University South Bend and local high schools.

But having a wide range of acts is just one reason behind the success of the festival, which draws about 15,000 per year. There’s also the fact that for many people — particularly those who once lived here but have moved elsewhere – the Elkhart Jazz Festival has become an annual ritual and an opportunity to reunite with families and friends.

“We’ve got folks who consider this their trip home to Elkhart for the summer and they plan their whole vacation around the Jazz Festival,” Decker said. “It’s something the whole community looks forward to.”

The early-bird discounts that go on sale Friday save attendees up to $30 per pass but availability is limited. Reduced pricing also will be available to students through the end of the festival.

Also on sale Friday will be tickets for the third annual EJF Preview Party, hosted by the Four Arts Club in the Lerner’s Crystal Ballroom. Dave Bennett, who has packed festival venues in Elkhart each year since 1998, will play two sets during the two-hour afternoon event on Monday, June 6. Tickets will be $30.

The festival is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, INOVA Federal Credit Union, Gaska Tape, the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city of Elkhart, and Friends of The Lerner.