Winter blues: Annual jazz festival expands into Brooklyn

APPROVED PHOTO – Phony Ppl – CLewis Team
People will talk: Brooklyn band Phony Ppl will play the Music Hall Of Williamsburg during the Winter Jazz Fest marathon of music on Jan. 17.
Winter Jazz Fest

It will blow the borough away!

A long-running Manhattan jazz festival will expand to Brooklyn next weekend for the first time in its 16-year run, bringing a marathon of swing, bebop, and free jazz to a half-dozen Brooklyn venues on Jan. 17. Bringing the Winter Jazz Fest to the city’s most creative borough will give local jazz lovers a chance to soak up hours of eclectic tunes while close to home, said the event’s organizer. 

“We were confident that the audience in Brooklyn would be hungry for the music,” said Brice Rosenbloom, who lives in Fort Greene.

Brooklyn’s jazz scene has expanded in recent years, noted Rosenbloom, with new spots cropping up all over the borough, including Bushwick’s Sultan Room, Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Bar Lunatico, and the Made in NY Jazz Cafe in Park Slope.

The marathon of music, however, will take place solely at venues in northern Brooklyn, including Music Hall of Williamsburg, National Sawdust, Brooklyn Bowl, and Rough Trade in Williamsburg; and at the House of Yes and the Sultan Room in Bushwick. Each venue will host between three and six different performances during the night, with most starting around 6 pm and continuing past midnight. 

Audience members with Festival passes can hop from venue to venue during the fest, which provides a great opportunity for discovering new music, said Rosenbloom.

“People go see stuff they know, but there’s also an opportunity for discovery because even if one venue is full, there’s space at another venue down the street,” he said. 

The Brooklyn marathon will feature plenty of hometown talent, including a three-act run of Brooklyn bands at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, featuring jazz and hip-hop fusion act QNA at 7 pm; experimental Brooklyn artist L’Rain at 8:15 pm; and Phony Ppl, a five-piece staple of the Brooklyn jazz scene, at 9 pm. 

The Winter Jazz Fest, which started in 2004, will also host marathons in Manhattan on Jan. 10 and 11, along with discussions about gender, health, and social justice in the jazz scene. The Winter Jazz Fest has become a showcase for up-and-coming artists with a progressive message in their work, said Rosenbloom.

“It’s become a beacon for artists who have something to say in their music,” he said.

Winter Jazz Fest Brooklyn Marathon (at various locations in Williamsburg and Bushwick, www.winterjazzfest.com). Jan 17; 6 pm–1 am. $35 ($75 VIP).