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Arlington Jazz Festival returns for a 13th year

Grammy-winner Christian McBride headlines four-day event

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Arlington Jazz Festival returns for a 13th year

The Arlington Jazz Festival will bring the croons of local and international musicians to town next month for the 13th year. Headlined by eight-time Grammy-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride, the four-day festival celebrates the history of jazz music and the genre-breaking contemporary artists changing the game.

Christian McBride PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA

“We’re showcasing all different kinds of musicians, everyone from the Arlington High School band to local adult amateur musicians, to a band from coming from Cuba and playing for the first time in the U.S.,” says festival founder Dan Fox.

The Cuban band, Espirales, has partnered with Fox for years during his music education group trips to Cuba. Fox says he was drawn to the group because of their unique fusion sound that blends classic Latin jazz rhythms with chamber music and world music elements. Espirales comprises five musicians: Tania Haase on violin, Olivia Rodríguez on double bass, Rodrigo García on piano, and Jesús Estrada and Alejandro Aguiar on percussion. That this is the group’s debut in the United States is another coup for the festival.

“The Arlington Jazz Festival is an opportunity to share the work and trends of various artists,” says Aguiar. “In this case, as a guest foreign band, we think it generates unique opportunities for exchange between artists from different cultures.”

The festival started as a very small one-day affair testing the waters for a music event in Arlington. The town was extremely receptive, and the festival has grown every year since. It now spans four days and attracts international talent like McBride. The 2024 festival will feature 11 performances. In 2017, the organization became a nonprofit to more easily sustain the festival for years to come.

The Arlington Jazz Festival runs April 4-7 at various venues across town, including the Arlington Center for the Arts, The Mill Café, Menotomy Grill, Regent Theatre and others. Many events are free and open to the public; others land in the $15-20 ticket range.

Though the spring festival is its biggest and most highly anticipated event, Arlington Jazz hosts workshops and concerts throughout the year to fuel the local musical community. Fox says subscribing to Arlington Jazz’s newsletter or staying in touch on social media are the best ways to remain up-to-date about year-round programming.

Fox hopes the festival brings the community together and encourages interest in jazz music.

“Some people think of it as a fringe music. It’s not popular music, but it is America’s music,” he says. “I think it’s important, especially for young people, to take pride in American music.”

Arlington Jazz Festival, arts, jazz, music