Jazz lovers won't want to miss the 2nd annual Des Moines Jazz Festival coming up on Friday and Saturday, September 1st and 2nd, hosted by the Des Moines Social Club. The music begins at 5 pm Friday and 2 pm Saturday and features a line-up of local and national bands.
I attended the first jazz festival last year, also held on Labor Day weekend, and found it to be an enjoyable and relaxed day of music and food. Most of the bands play in the Social Club's outdoor courtyard, so patrons should bring lawn chairs and dress appropriately for the weather. Last year local high school jazz bands played inside the Kum & Go Theater, and I was amazed by their professionalism and skill. Playing before a sophisticated audience, and having to improvise solos as well, is not an easy job but the students managed to pull it off.
This year's Friday night band lineup features local favorite The Nola Jazz Band, which plays traditional New Orleans-style jazz music, followed by the Shotgun Jazz Band from New Orleans, a group of seven musicians. Saturday opens with the Dartanyan Brown Trio, featuring jazz fusion-rock bass player Dartanyan who recently returned to the Des Moines area after several decades in California. The next group plays a completely different type of music: the Izabel Crane quintet from Springfield, Missouri plays energetic gypsy jazz music reminiscent of the acoustic sound of popular groups Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers.
Next on Saturday is the Hermon Mehari Trio, featuring the Kansas City/Paris-based jazz trumpet virtuoso Hermon Mehari. The Twin Cities Latin Jazz Combo then takes the stage, joined by Des Moines pianist Tanner Taylor. The festival's headliner, Sasha Masakowski, performs at 8:30 pm Saturday. She is a New Orleans jazz vocalist who has been praised for her compositions layering traditional New Orleans jazz with electro pop and rock influences.
This jazz festival offers music for every palate: traditional, Latin, gypsy, and fusion jazz. Tickets may be purchased online or at the event ($10 for Friday, $20 for Saturday, or $25 for a two-day ticket). Parking is available on the surrounding streets or nearby parking garages, often free of charge. Food and beverages are available for purchase on-site. Come enjoy a night or full weekend of live music!
All photos taken by the author at the 2016 Des Moines Jazz Festival.