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Summer of the Arts welcomes world-renowned jazz artists for Iowa City Jazz Festival

By March 27, 2019 No Comments

The usual mix of top stars, genre legends, and young talents comprise the lineup for the 2019 Iowa City Jazz Festival. July 5-7 will feature hours of free performances on the University of Iowa Pentacrest, downtown Iowa City and the Ped Mall.

The Jazz Festival, presented by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, is in its 29th year. For the first time, the festival also will feature the opportunity to see two jazz performers in more intimate settings through ticketed events.

Nayo Jones

The festival begins Friday, July 5, at 6 p.m. with The Nayo Jones Experience. Jones, a vocalist, fronts a quartet that gives this young New Orleans-based singer a solid classical soul sound. At 8 p.m., soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her band Maqueque will take the stage. Bunnett and this all-female group of Cuban musicians play in a fiery Afro-Cuban style that will be sure to have you moving.  Following Jane Bunnett, the City of Iowa City’s fireworks show will occur on the west side of the Old Capitol at approximately 9:30 p.m.

The night wraps up with the first of two special ticketed events. Thumbscrew, a trio comprised of equal partners drummer Thomas Fujiwara, guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Michael Formanek plays an inventive, engaging brand of modern jazz that focuses on the interplay between these three talented musicians. This show will be at 10:30 p.m. at The Mill, and tickets are available through Midwestix.

Sasha Berliner

Saturday, July 6, begins at 11:30 a.m. with the United Jazz Ensemble which features the best young musicians from the Iowa City area. At 12:30 p.m., the North Corridor Jazz All Stars, a group composed of the best high school musicians from Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls, will perform. At 2 p.m., Sasha Berliner, the 2018 LetterOne Rising Star Winner takes the stage. This is a special appearance in partnership with the LetterOne organization, which will bring saxophonist Berliner and her group to select festivals throughout the year.

Danilo Perez

Ryan Keberle’s Catharsis will perform at 4 p.m. Trombonist Keberle leads this soulful group that features guitar, vocals and a deep groove. At 6 p.m., acclaimed pianist Craig Taborn leads his Daylight Ghosts Quartet. The group features frequent festival performer bassist Chris Lightcap, saxophonist Chris Speed, and Bad Plus drummer Dave King. Saturday performances on the Main Stage come to a close at 8 p.m. with the Danilo Perez Trio featuring special guest saxophonist Chris Potter.

Additionally, on Friday and Saturday of Jazz Fest, there will be jam sessions featuring local and festival musicians at the Clinton Street Social Club starting at 10:30 p.m.

The 2019 Jazz Festival closes on Sunday, July 7.  Action moves exclusively to the Ped Mall Stage with several local favorites including the George Jazz Trio, Blake Shaw Thrio, Dick Watson, Brick Street Ramblers, and Latin Jazz group Ritmocano led by Jim Dreier closing out the afternoon. Music will be performed from noon to 5 p.m.

The Bad Plus

Jazz Fest concludes with another ticketed opportunity, with two performances by The Bad Plus, one at 5 p.m. and a second at 9 p.m., both at the Mill. These shows offer Iowa City’s first chance to see this favorite piano trio after a lineup change, featuring new pianist Orrin Evans. Tickets are available through Midwestix.

In addition to these main stage sets, music will be performed on three side stages throughout the festival. Festival attendees can also enjoy our food vendors, artists, kids’ activities, and a beverage garden, all in downtown Iowa City.

For the complete schedule and full artist bios, please visit our website at

Summer of the Arts produces the Iowa Arts Festival presented by Veridian Credit Union, Iowa City Jazz Festival presented by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union (UICCU), Friday Night Concert Series presented by Toyota of Iowa City, Free Movie Series presented by Urban Acres Real Estate and UICCU, and the Iowa Soul & Blues Festival presented by MidWestOne Bank.

CONTACT: Lisa Barnes, Executive Director, Phone: 319-337-7944, Email: