Central Jersey Jazz Festival Comes to New Brunswick on September 17

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—For the fourth year running, the Central Jersey Jazz Festival will run from September 16-18, returning to the City of New Brunswick on September 17.

Seating at Monument Square, just outside the Heldrich Hotel, starts at 12:00 p.m. with performances beginning at 1:00 p.m. rain or shine.

The Central Jersey Jazz Festival was incorporated in 2012. It started out with events in Somerville and New Brunswick, and added a third day of music in Flemington in 2013.

Seen as a post-recession resurgence and revival of the New Brunswick Jazz scene, the festival is operated by the New Brunswick Jazz Project, launched in the Spring of 2010 by local music enthusiasts Virginia DeBerry, Michael Tublin, and Jim Lenihan.

The Jazz Project books several local shows within the Brunswick area several times each week and works with local businesses and venues to book shows and keep Jazz happening in town.

This year’s line-up opens with the Johnny O'Neal Quartet.  Johnny O’ Neal started his career at the age of 13, working as a church pianist at the New Bethel Baptist Church in his home town of Detroit, Michigan.

At the time, New Bethel was pastored by the legendary Reverend C.L. Franklin, father of the renowned soul singer, Aretha Franklin.

He would later establish a reputation for himself and his Neo-Bop jazz style, in the 1980’s.  In 2004, O’Neal played renowned jazz virtuoso Art Tatum in the movie Ray.

A legendary jazz pianist and vocalist himself, O'Neal has performed with innumerous acts such as: Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Joe Pass, Lionel Hampton, Anita O'Day, Sonny Stitt, Carmen MacRae, Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Sarah Vaughn, Wynton Marsalis, and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.

O’Neal performs regularly in New York City and is an inductee in the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Following the Johnny O’Neal Quartet will be the The Steven Kroon Latin Sextet, which has been described as highly electrifying Latin Jazz, with music consistent of Jazz mixed with a blend of Afro Cuban and Brailian music.

Steven Kroon, the percussionist and leader of the sextet, has been a professional musician for more than 35 years, and is mostly noted for adding his percussion sounds to the great late vocalist Luther Van Dross from 1981 to 2001 where he performed on seven platinum albums and fifteen world tours.

He has also recorded with many renowned musicians in the business, such as Stanley Turrentine, Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, and Lady Gaga.

He has also toured and recorded with, Ron Carter of the Miles Davis Quintet fame.

Adding to his credits are five CD's released under his name: "In My Path," "Senor Kroon," "El Mas Alla" (Beyond), "Without A Doubt" (Sin Duda), and his latest "On The #1," all under his own record label "Kroonatune Records, LLC."

And last on set will be the Jeremy Pelt Quartet. Jeremy Pelt has become one of the preeminent young trumpeters within the world of jazz both nationally and internationally.

Pelt frequently performs alongside such notable ensembles as the Roy Hargrove Big Band, The Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Big Band, and is a member of the Lewis Nash Septet and The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band featuring Louis Hayes.

He has also performed and recorded with Cliff Barbaro, Keter Betts, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Ravi Coltrane, Frank Foster, Winard Harper, Jimmy Heath, Vincent Herring, John Hicks, Charli Persip, Ralph Peterson, Lonnie Plaxico, Bobby Short, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, Nancy Wilson and The Skatalites, to name a few.

As a leader, Pelt has recorded ten albums and has toured globally with various ensembles, appearing at many major jazz festivals and concert venues.

Pelt has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal by legendary jazz writer and producer, Nat Hentoff, and was voted Rising Star on the trumpet, five years in a row by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association.

Pelt is currently touring throughout the United States and Europe in support of his latest release, "Tales, Musings, and Other Reveries," released by Highnote Records in 2015.

Also featured for the Central Jersey Jazz Festival will be the New Brunswick Brass Band, a brass band consisting of recent Mason Gross Graduates and local musicians.

The schedule for the New Brunswick festivities is as follows:

1:00 – 2:15 – Johnny O' Neal Quartet
2:15 – 2:45 – New Brunswick Brass Band
2:45 – 4:00 – Steven Kroon Latin Sextet
4:00 – 4:30 – New Brunswick Brass Band
4:30 – 6:00 – Jeremy Pelt Quartet

CD sales and signing of CD's by the musicians will follow the musician's performance. 

Editor at New Brunswick Today | 732-993-9697 | editor@newbrunswicktoday.com

Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.