Mike Meno and Jason Tomassini | Talk of the Town | August 20, 2008
The Silver Spring Jazz Festival will return to the downtown in September for its fifth year, but in a new location and with some help from music promoter Live Nation to book the headliner: The Mingus Big Band.
This year's festival, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 13, will be held in the parking lot behind the Lee Building at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring.
"We needed a site that's a big open space and were desperate to have something right downtown," said Susan Hoffmann, marketing and special events manager with the Silver Spring Regional Center.
Last year's event was held at the artificial turf field at the corner of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive, the site for a new civic center, which will be under construction this fall.
This year's headlining act is The Mingus Big Band, a Grammy-nominated, 14-piece ensemble. Last year's headliner was Latin trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.
Los Angeles-based Live Nation, which plans to open The Fillmore music hall on Colesville Road in 2010, contacted The Mingus Big Band to play this year's festival. Hoffmann said the assistance could provide the basis for a strong partnership between the county and the promoter in the future.
"I'd like to partner with Live Nation when the Fillmore opens," said Hoffmann, who has produced the Jazz Festival for the past five years.
Other performers include Marcus Johnson, a former graduate of Montgomery Blair High School who runs the Three Keys record label and recording studio at 8121 Georgia Ave. and has performed at each jazz festival in Silver Spring. Also performing will be Israeli-born saxophone player Yaron Elyashiv as part of the Yaron Elyashiv Quintet, Silver Spring vocalist Gail Shipp and the Samambaya Quintet.
There also will be a New Orleans-style parade of youth jazz musicians called the Jazz Ensemble Caravan, which will kick off the event at 2 p.m. Three youth jazz ensembles will compete for the Silver Spring Jazz Festival Trophy, awarded annually to the best performance. Ensembles competing this year include James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring, The Jazz Academy of Music in Silver Spring and defending champion Albert Einstein High School in Kensington.
Hoffmann said she expects a crowd of about 25,000.