Downtown Springfield Association
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Queen City’s growing music scene will shine at Springfield Jazz Festival

September 28, 2018


Country music’s roots run deep in southwest Missouri, but the Queen City of the Ozarks will show off its growing jazz music scene Saturday, Sept. 29, in Downtown Springfield.

Systematic Savings Bank presents the ninth annual Springfield Jazz Festival, from noon-7 p.m. on two stages. This free events is a celebration of culture, diversity and, of course, great music.

“Downtown is proud to host great street festivals and this event’s collaborations features Missouri State, Drury and Evangel jazz programs, many of the region’s best bands and a nationally-known headliner at the historic Gillioz Theatre,” Rusty Worley, Downtown Springfield Association Executive Director, said. “The Springfield Jazz Festival is also an opportunity to celebrate diversity and foster new generations of jazz performers and fans.”

Collegiate acts will perform at the pavilion on Park Central Square. Local and regional acts will showcase on Park Central East, across from the Gillioz. Those shows are free and open to the public.

The Gillioz itself will host the crowning act of the event. Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights will play a signature concert at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through the theatre’s box office.

Grammy Award-winning entertainment

Lewis is a three-time Grammy Award winner and a four-time nominee. His career spans more than 60 years. The Chicago native began taking piano lessons at age four. By age 15 he was in his first jazz band, the Cleffs.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio released its first album in 1956. Its 1965 hit single “The In Crowd” hit no. 5 on the pop charts. That album went as high as No. 2. Lewis topped the charts three times, including “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water.” Those songs, and “The In Crowd,” all sold more than one million copies and earned gold discs.

“Hang On Sloopy” earned Lewis a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1973. Lewis also captured awards for Best R&B Group Performance, Vocal Or Instrumental, in 1966 for “Hold It Right There,” and Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Small Group Or Soloist With Small Group, in 1965 for “The In Crowd.” That song earned a Record of the Year nomination.

Local Stars

The Springfield Jazz Festival will showcase 11 acts on two stages. University groups from Drury, Evangel and Missouri State will all perform.

Local and regional acts include The Brant Jester Quartet, The Missouri Jazz Orchestra (MOJO) and The Arthur Duncan Band. The full schedule is below.

Park Central East Stage – Across from The Gillioz

  • 12:00 p.m. – The Brandon Mezzelo Trio
  • 1:00 p.m. – The Brueggemann/Gouge Quintet
  • 2:00 p.m. – The Brant Jester Quartet
  • 3:00 p.m. – The Hamm/Aho Duo featuring Christin Bohrisch
  • 4:30 p.m. – The Missouri Jazz Orchestra MOJO
  • 6:00 p.m. – The Arthur Duncan Band

Park Central Square Pavilion Stage

  • 12:00 p.m. – MSU Jazz Studies Ensemble I
  • 1:00 p.m. – Evangel Jazz Band
  • 2:00 p.m. – Drury Jazz Band
  • 3:00 p.m. – MSU Jazz Symposium I
  • 4:00 p.m. – MSU Jazz Symposium II

The beat goes on

Jazz is growing in Downtown Springfield well beyond the Jazz Festival. The Gillioz’s Gallery Concert Series will feature Aubrey Logan at 8 p.m. Nov. 8. Lost Signal Brewing Company hosts Jazz Brunch every Sunday. Monk’s Social Club also features jazz music on a regular basis.

And coming soon is the Hepcat Lounge, at the corner of Campbell and McDaniel. The Hepcat will feature food and drink as well as local jazz musicians. Dylan Fox will serve as the general manager. He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than seven years. Fox has won awards for his mixology and cocktail programs. Partner James Rollins has a decade of experience in hospitality himself.

Missouri State University’s Department of Music features a jazz studies program, led by Randy Hamm. Performance opportunities include the MSU Jazz Studies Ensemble and Jazz Symposiums. MSU will host fall concerts Oct. 16 and Nov. 29. Both events start at 7:30 p.m. at Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts and are free and open to the public.