Brooklyn Blues: BRIC JazzFest coming to Fort Greene with carefully-curated lineup next month

woman sings at microphone at JazzFest
JazzFest, a three-day celebration of jazz musicians from Brooklyn and the world, is coming back to Fort Greene in October.
Jati Lindsay/BRIC

The blues are coming back to Brooklyn next month at the eighth annual BRIC JazzFest!

A crowd of 19 artists will spend three days moving, grooving, and serenading the crowd at BRIC House on Fulton Street next month. The carefully-curated, stacked lineup includes pillars of the jazz world, rising musical stars, and artists experimenting at the edges of the genre. 

Vocalist Lizz Wright, artist José James, jazz duo DOMi & JD Beck, and trumpet player Maurice “Mobetta” Brown will headline the festival, which run from Oct. 20-22. Wright, celebrated as a “steward of American music,” will open the festival on Thursday evening, while DOMI & JD Beck and Brown will help close it out on Saturday. Brown, a “mastermind” trumpeter and composer, also curated this year’s lineup alongside BRIC producer Viviana Benitez and Winter JazzFest founder Brice Rosenbloom.

man playing trumpet at jazzfest
Trumpeter Sean Jones kicked off the first night of 2021 JazzFest at BRIC House. This year’s lineup was carefully curated by BRIC members and musician Maurice “Mobetta” Brown. Jati Lindsay/BRIC

“BRIC Jazzfest is a great example of how careful and thoughtful curation can meet inspiring vision,” said BRIC President Wes Jackson in a statement last month. “It’s a great way to activate BRIC House and welcome our community into our cultural home as we continue to establish BRIC as the hub for creatives in Brooklyn and beyond. We’re committed to supporting both emerging and established artists, exploring new sounds and energies, and defining and redefining what jazz itself means.”

The festival comes just over a month after BRIC, a hub for local arts, culture, and civic engagement, officially re-opened its doors to the public after two years of only sporadically inviting Brooklynites inside for special events.

Last year, at BRIC’s first in-person JazzFest since 2019, the organization pared back its programming – past events have spanned the course of an entire week, with film screenings and poetry slams preceding three nights of musical performances — and it paid off. The 2021 JazzFest was the first ever to sell out completely. 

musicians play into microphones at jazzfest
JazzFest, a much-loved annual tradition, will feature pillars of the genre as well as newcomers and experimental musicians. Jati Lindsay/BRIC

This year, some extra programming and a free concert will give Brooklynites a taste of JazzFest before its official kickoff. On Oct. 15, in partnership with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, BRIC will present a free concert of improv band Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber. The concert will also feature an art-making station provided by the Louis Armstrong House Museum and an interactive pop-up by car-maker Infiniti. 

“Brice Rosenbloom, Viviana Benitez and I have been brainstorming to bring you the best BRIC festival yet,” Brown said in a statement. “We have put together some amazing configurations and music fueled by hip hop and the next generation of artists that are pushing the boundaries. This year it has been our goal to create a cultural melting pot.”

Also taking to the BRIC House stage will be Michaela Marino Lerman, a tap dancer and choreographer known around the world; Harlem-based music collective Freelance, whose array of vocalists and musicians make their performances vast and unique; and HERA, a new musical group named after the Greek goddess. 

BRIC exterior
The line for last year’s sold-out JazzFest wrapped around the block. The celebrated festival is back on Oct. 20-22, with free concert on Oct. 15. Jati Lindsay/BRIC

Of course, JazzFest doesn’t forget about local artists — Brooklyn-based musician Keyanna and the Kalia Vandever Quartet will rep the borough at the festival. One and three-day passes are on sale online now.

“Our love and deep esteem for music and musicians is at the core of this year’s curatorial vision for BRIC JazzFest,” Benitez said in a statement. “It’s a thrill and a privilege to bring together artists at this growing festival and present artists who will debut new work and push the boundaries of the jazz genre. We are looking forward to sharing moments of reflection, discovery, joy, positivity and possibility with each and every one of you!”