Twin Cities Jazz Festival

17th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival Fills Outdoor Stages, Indoor Clubs throughout Saint Paul


Saint Paul, Minn., May 13, 2015 — One of the largest civic events in the Midwest, the 17th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival promises to be the region’s most significant gathering of jazz artists and jazz fans, the largest ever assembled in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area. Taking place June 25-27 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 20 indoor venues throughout the downtown Saint Paul area and beyond. Working with newly appointed Artistic Director Francisco Mela, Jazz Festival Executive Director Steve Heckler has assembled a line-up of stellar international acts as well as a diverse mix of local and regional artists. “From Lowertown to Highland Park to Como, this year’s Jazz Fest is a reflection of all the culture and energy that emanates from one end of our city to the other,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “I look forward to enjoying all of the outstanding musical talent that will fill Saint Paul during this impressive gathering of artists from across the region.”

Headliners include New Orleans legend Dr. John and the Nite Trippers; an all-star quartet featuring Chris Potter, Dave Holland, Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland; a new ensemble from Artistic Director/Cuban percussionist Francisco Mela with special guest, Grammy-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton; the high-energy return of the Araya-Orta Quartet with famed steel pan artist Othello Molineaux; and 2014 Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition winner Marquis Hill and his Blacktet. Added attractions include the return of perennial house pianist Jon Weber, and a special visit from the London-based Cloudmakers Trio. A long list of accomplished local artists includes the JazzMN Orchestra, Atlantis Quartet, Laura Caviani, the Illicit Sextet and vocalists Pippi Ardennia, Patty Peterson, Debbie Duncan, Charmin Michelle, Lucia Newell, Yolande Bruce, Arne Fogel, Maud Hixson and more.

Officially, the festival launches on Thursday night (June 25) with the annual Jazz Night Out, an evening of nonstop music throughout Lowertown and beyond, from Pippi Ardennia on the Mears Park Stage (sponsored by Music at Mears) to clubs, bars, restaurants and other music spaces within a few blocks to spots along West 7th Street and along the Green Line (University Avenue stops). Jazz Fest will bring the first concert to CHS Field where locally renowned Jack Brass Band will open at 2:15 pm for Dr. John and the Nite Trippers (3:30 pm), providing an afternoon of soaring New Orleans sounds. These two shows will require tickets (free) reserved online, with the opportunity to purchase priority seating in a reserved VIP area. The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Youth Stage will move to Union Depot on Saturday afternoon (12- 5 pm), followed by the nationally acclaimed Atlantis Quartet and international touring artists, the Cloudmakers Trio with Red Wing native Michael Janisch. And each night (Thursday-Saturday), Jon Weber performs and then hosts the annual After Hours Jam, now back in its “home space” in the Hamm Building in the new Vieux Carré. A new “Smooth and Groove” jam session this year takes place after hours each night at The Bedlam, Thursday-Saturday, hosted by local trumpeter Solomon Parham.

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival extends its reach before and after these three days of music. Jazz Fest again collaborates with the Saint Paul Library system for the fifth annual “Jazz in the Library,” bringing top jazz talents to three community libraries earlier in June. Libraries participating this year include the SunRay Library (Ticket to Brasil, June 16); Hamline Midway Library (Chris Bates’ Good Vibes Trio, June 17); and the downtown Central Library (Francisco Mela Trio, June 21). Music in Highland Park returns and expands, with pre-festival activities on Tuesday, June 23 (Lila Ammons Quartet on the Langford Chiropractic Clinic outdoor stage); Lucia Newell Quartet at 7th Street Social (June 25), and the Groove Merchants at Tiffany’s Sports Lounge (June 26). The festival will host three outstate concerts later in the summer, featuring the Jazz Central All-Stars and sponsored for the second year by Jefferson Lines (July 4 in Duluth; July 19 in Bemidji; July 27 in St. Cloud).

Festival weekend again will include more food options in and around Mears Park.
Metro Transit will provide free bus and light rail rides with a pass that can be downloaded at KBEM Jazz 88 radio will broadcast from the festival each evening, June 25-27.

Support for the 2015 Twin Cities Jazz Festival is provided by the Knight Foundation through its Knight Arts Challenge, Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Access grant, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and City of Saint Paul Cultural Star. Over 30,000 are expected at this free public event, one of the largest jazz festivals in the Midwest.

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

The full schedule by venue (as of May 12) follows; visit Twin Cities Jazz Festival Schedule page for updates and a schedule by date.