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Charles River Jazz Festival returns for a third year

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Charles River Jazz Festival returns for a third year
Last year’s Charles River Jazz Festival saw more than 1,600 attendees. PHOTOS: Courtesy Charles River Jazz Festival

The sweet notes of the saxophone will once again float downstream at the Charles River Jazz Festival, returning for a third year in Herter Park in Allston. The festival features a strong lineup of performers of color, including Braxton Cook, Michael Mayo, Farayi Malek and others.

Boston-based jazz musician Seba Molnar founded the Charles River Jazz Festival in 2021 at the request of Friends of Herter Park. The project is rooted in a few tenets, including equitable pay for artists, an inclusive space for all and opportunities for musicians to connect directly with the surrounding community.

PHOTO: COURTESY CHARLES RIVER JAZZ FESTIVAL

“After the loss of the Beantown Jazz Festival in 2018 and so many beloved local venues in 2020 due to the pandemic, I was excited by the opportunity to create new opportunities to build community around music,” says Molnar, now the executive director of the festival. The inaugural festival hosted more than 500 people and the second year saw more than 1,600, marking it as the biggest event ever hosted at the Herter Park Amphitheater. This year’s festival is expected to grow even further. 

The festival is on July 16 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the musical acts, guests can enjoy food and beverages, including beer and wine, and a market of local makers and small businesses. Best of all, entrance is free. “We’ve been able to make CRJF totally free and accessible to all audiences, while supporting and paying our featured artists — all made possible by our generous sponsors and donors,” says Molnar.

Some of those sponsors include Friends of Herter Park, Mass Cultural Council, Boston Cultural Council, Boston Equity and Inclusion Cabinet, Harvard University, Boston Sax Shop, WGBH Music and Jazz 24/7 and Beyond Measure Music.

Now that the festival is hitting its stride, they’ve developed a board of directors and established the Boston Jazz Festival (BFJ), a nonprofit organization made to support marginalized artists of Boston who are keeping jazz authentic and rooted in Black history.

“Boston Jazz Foundation is proud to announce its first initiative with the launch of the Boston Jazz Foundation Scholarship,” says Molnar. “In collaboration with Hamilton-Garrett Academy of Music and Arts, this scholarship will award full tuition for the 2023 school-year to two Hamilton-Garrett Academy of Music and Arts students.”

The Hamilton-Garrett Academy of Music and Arts is a performing arts school based in Roxbury that focuses its curriculum on the history, roots and influences of Black music. This BJF Scholarship supports and acknowledges the Black foundations of jazz.

The Charles River Jazz Festival will be another marker of the start of summer in Boston, with hundreds of community members coming together to listen to talented musicians on the banks of the Charles River.

arts, Charles River Jazz Festival, jazz, music