ELKHART — As entertainment bargains go, this weekend’s 32nd annual Elkhart Jazz Fest hits all the right notes.
Featuring 100 hours of music across three days on seven indoor and outdoor stages, the city’s premier event has its share of big-name acts – Gregory Porter, Dave Bennett Quartet, The Hot Sardines, Davina & the Vagabonds, and Terry & the Pirates. All-day tickets on Friday and Sunday are $30, and on Saturday they’re $50.
“That’s a pretty good value for anyone who loves seeing music performed live,” festival co-chairman Ben Decker said.
But anyone who would rather spend, well, nothing to attend the festival and listen to great music can do that too.
In fact, the freebies start a day early, at 7 p.m. Thursday, when the Truth in Jazz Big Band will be accompanied by students who have been involved in a Jazz Festival workshop all week in a free concert at the Lerner Theatre.
A lineup of free performances continues Friday through Sunday, most of them in the downtown Civic Plaza, capped off by free fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights.
Noteworthy among the free performances is the USAF Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force. They take the stage at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, also at the Lerner.
A schedule of all the performances is available at elkhartjazzfestival.com.
Decker said the festival, put on by volunteers and with the support of businesses and charitable organizations, is a celebration for the entire community and visitors – a nod to the city’s musical-instrument-making heritage and a great way to kick off the summer.
“It was important for our community and for our sponsors that we make sure this is an inclusive event,” Decker said. “In fact, a lot of people come to the festival and see the outdoor stages, and they don’t even realize we have five other stages indoors. We encourage everyone in the community to come see what we have to offer.”
Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the USAF Airmen of Note is one of six musical ensembles comprising the U.S. Air Force Band.
Created in 1950 to continue the tradition of Maj. Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces dance band, the current band consists of 18 active-duty Airmen musicians, including one vocalist.
Through the years, the Airmen of Note has presented its own brand of big band jazz as well as more contemporary forms of jazz to audiences via annual tours across the United States, deployments around the world and local performances throughout metropolitan Washington.
Its commitment to musical excellence has earned the respect of the foremost jazz artists from around the globe, leading to many collaborative performances and recordings with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan and Doc Severinsen.
In 1990, the Airmen of Note established the Jazz Heritage Series, featuring the “Note” in concert with legendary icons of jazz. The Jazz Heritage Series is broadcast to millions over National Public Radio, independent jazz radio stations, satellite radio services and the internet.