In its 10th year, Woodstock Jazz Festival celebrates founders with grand event

Aug. 25-26 fest brings live music to Woodstock Square, Opera House, Stage Left Café

The Jamey Aebersold Quartet will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 26 in the Woodstock Opera House as part of the Woodstock Jazz Festival.
The Jamey Aebersold Quartet will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 26 in the Woodstock Opera House as part of the Woodstock Jazz Festival.

The weekend-long Woodstock Jazz Festival will celebrate music that “captures the spirit of humanity,” along with the people who first brought it to town a decade ago.

Coming Aug. 25-26 to the Woodstock Square – with concerts outdoors and at Stage Left Café and the Woodstock Opera House – the festival promotes jazz in all its diverse forms and colorful history.

“Being the 10th annual festival for the organization, we’ve tried to make it bigger and grander,” said Bryan Kyrouac, president of Jazz on the Square, which hosts the event along with regular jazz jams in Woodstock.

The group grew out of a conversation over dinner years ago, said Bruce Lane, a Jazz on the Square board member.

“There were six people who put their heads together and basically asked the question, ‘Why do we have to go to Chicago to get jazz?’ ” he said. “They took the question and put it in action, started doing small jams and expanding to Stage Left and doing the festival.”

Those six – Robert and Judith Honesty, Erin and Billy Denk, Randy Robinson and Jim Hecht – will be honored during the festival.

Through the years, the festival, jams and other events hosted by Jazz on the Square not only have provided a venue for entertainment, but an outlet for young musicians, Lane said. And that’s, perhaps, Jazz on the Square’s proudest accomplishment, he said.

Through suggested donations at the door of Stage Left Café jams, the group has been able to give scholarships to aspiring young jazz musicians to attend summer jazz education camps at leading Illinois universities.

"We really encourage middle and high school students to get the experience of jamming in front of a live audience,” Lane said. “It’s been really rewarding to watch them grow and move forward.”

A group of those young musicians actually will open for the festival’s headliner, Jamey Aebersold, a world-renown jazz educator and saxophonist.

“This guy is kind of a legend really,” Kyrouac said. “He’s like the real deal.”

A National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master and author, Aebersold, with The Jamey Aebersold Quartet, will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Woodstock Opera House. Tickets cost $20 at or 815-338-5300. At 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Stage Left Café will be a free performance by Chris and Andy St. Leger’s Swang City Vibe Town, a group of young musicians who found their start jamming with Jazz on the Square.

Aebersold also has agreed to host a free clinic for musicians and others at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at Stage Left Café. Reserve a spot at or go to the standby line that day.

“He almost never performs out,” Kyrouac said. “Basically, everyone kind of comes to him more or less. To get him to come out was a big get for us.”

Still, he said, he doesn’t want the concert to overshadow the festival’s many other events, including an Aug. 25 concert at Stage Left Café and free performances the morning of Aug. 26 on the Woodstock Square.

“Every time we do the free portion during the morning with the farmers market, it’s just a sea of people sitting, jazzing up with their neighbors and listening to some great music,” Kyrouac said.

Following is a roundup of festival events:

Aug. 25

• 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at Stage Left Café, 125 Van Buren St., Woodstock – Performances by Chinchano followed by the Tim Fitzgerald Trio, with opening act the Johnny Weber Trio. Juan Pastor of Chinchano fuses modern jazz with the deeply soulful folk rhythms of his native Peru. Featuring pianist Stu Mindeman, bassist Patrick Mulcahy, trumpeter Tito Carrillo and saxophonist Rich Moore, the ensemble is rhythmically driven by Pastor’s drums and percussion, often employing the Peruvian cajon.The Tim Fitzgerald Trio presents a mix of jazz and soul music, including originals and the music of Wes Montgomery. Tickets cost $20 for premium reserved seating (within the first four rows) at or $10 at the door. Seating at the café is limited, and is first-come, first-serve.

Aug. 26

• 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Woodstock Square – Free performances by the Rick Embach Trio (9 a.m.), Potts & Pans Steel Band (10 a.m.) and Outcast Jazz Band (11:30 a.m.).

• 4:30 p.m. at Stage Left Café (doors open at 4 p.m.) – Jamey Aebersold, a world-renown jazz educator and saxophonist, will host a free clinic for musicians and others. Reserve a spot at or go to the standby line that day.

• 7 p.m. at Stage Left Café – A free performance by Chris and Andy St. Leger’s Swang City Vibe Town.

• 8 p.m. at the Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St – A performance by The Jamey Aebersold Quartet. Aebersold recently received the United States’ highest jazz award, the A.B. Spellman Jazz Advocacy Jazz Masters award in New York City. He is responsible for producing 133 jazz play-a-long book/CD sets. Jamey’s jazz quartet plays numerous educational concerts throughout the year. Tickets for the Opera House concert cost $20 at or 815-338-5300. A free JOTS jam session will follow the concert until 11:30 p.m. at Stage Left Café. Information:

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