Dr. Lonnie Smith To Headline 2017 CUNY Jazz Fest


Dr. Lonnie Smith will headline the 17th CUNY Jazz Festival, which runs May 4–5.

(Photo: Courtesy the artist)

The City College Center for the Arts (CCCA) and the City College of New York Jazz Program will present the 2017 CUNY Jazz Festival featuring Hammond Organ guru Dr. Lonnie Smith on May 4–5.

The two-day festival includes free master classes with saxophonist Jon Gordon and vocalist René Marie, performances by student ensembles from schools throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) and a free concert with Smith, a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Master and 2016 DownBeat Critics Poll winner whose most recent album, Evolution (Blue Note), was reviewed in the March 2016 issue of this magazine.

The event culminates with a gala concert featuring the CCNY Student Jazz All-Stars opening for Smith and his trio, on May 5 at 7:30 p.m. The events will be held at historic Aaron Davis Hall.

“The CUNY Jazz Festival celebrates its 17th year and this year is particularly special because City College Center for the Arts joins the festival in presenting living legend Dr. Lonnie Smith and his trio,” said CCCA Managing Director Gregory Shanck.

Past CUNY Jazz Festival guest artists include guitarists John Abercrombie and Adam Rogers, bassist John Patitucci, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, vocalist Luciana Souza, saxophonists Dick Oatts Chris Potter, Dave Liebman, and Billy Drewes, pianist Kenny Werner, trumpet players Ralph Alessi and Marvin Stamm, as well as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

The 17tth Annual CUNY Jazz Festival kicks off May 4 with a performance by the CCNY Faculty Jazz Ensemble at noon, followed by a master class featuring Gordon and performance by student ensembles. That evening, Smith joins the CCNY Large Jazz Ensemble for a free concert followed by a jam session.

On Friday, May 5, the festival continues at noon with student performances and a master class featuring vocalist René Marie. The festival wraps up with a gala concert featuring the CCNY Student Jazz All-Stars followed by the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio at 7:30 p.m.

CCNY is the home of a distinguished jazz faculty, which recently added saxophonist Steve Wilson as a full-time professor of jazz music. Other full-time faculty members include Mike Holober, Suzanne Pittson and Scott Reeves.

Participating schools joining CCNY ensembles this year include Hunter College, Queens College, Lehman College, York College and The College of Staten Island. Admission is $15 for the general public and free with CUNY ID.

For more information, visit the CUNY Jazz Festival website.