39th Annual Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival
Presented by the River House Restaurant
Want to buy a table or reserve a blanket? Make your selections below:
The time-honored Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival, renamed from the Portsmouth Jazz Festival in 1996 to honor legendary local jazz pianist and composer, Tommy Gallant, is back on the Wilcox Main Stage this August 28th, celebrating 39 years of jazzy syncopation, swing, and creative freedom with music lovers of all ages! Prescott Park Arts Festival, in partnership with Seacoast Jazz Society, is delighted to once again present the annual Seacoast tradition that will feature a host of local, regional, and national talent, amplifying the different styles of the genre. So swagger on down to the park with your fellow jazz cats and let the blue notes transport you to another era!
This year’s Jazz Festival will feature Internationally Acclaimed Vocalist, and 2022 Grammy Nominee, Carmen Bradford who will be performing with SeacoastBig Band.
Please see the full line-up below.
Table and blanket reservations are non-refundable, but can be transferred to another date in the 2022 season.
Please Note: General Admission Donations do not include reserved seating. This is a way to make your gate donation in advance.
Table reservations seat four.
Blanket reservations are placed in the blankets-only area of lawn and do not allow for chair placement.
Jazz Festival Line-Up
Opening Jazz Fest is the newly formed Quartet Assante, who combine their impressive musical talents to bring Brazilian and Argentinian culture to a new experience of jazz. The group features Nihco Gallo on vibraphone, and Jason Anick on violin, with Jason Emmond on bass, and Zak King on drums. They will have you swaying to the sounds of tango and samba.
Up next on the Wilcox Main Stage will be Gray Sargent and Friends with Jeff Stout, John Lockwood, and Les Harris Jr. “Ballads, Be-bop, and Blues!” You’re in for a treat with the combination of musicians that Gray Sargent has pulled together for the Jazz Festival this year. Each one is an exceptional professional jazz musician on their own, together they will combine to create a bit of jazz magic.
Born on a snowy Fat Tuesday night in 2012, Soggy Po Boys have been honing their craft of New Orleans’ music in their Dover, NH hometown. The New Orleans flavored septet doesn’t just play their weekly gig and call it a day. No, they fit in more than 100 shows every year, the Po’ Boys are doing their part to spread the greatest music on earth around their home base of New England. Comprised of Stu Dias on Vocals & Guitar, Brett Gallo on Drums, Scott Kiefner on Upright Bass, Mike Effenberger on Keys, Nick Mainella on Tenor Sax, Josh Gagnon on Trombone, and Eric Klaxton on Soprano Sax & Clarinet. This big band will serve their jazz messy, mixing brass-fueled mayhem with spirituals, meters-style old-school funk, and the Caribbean side of the New Orleans tradition.
Next up, get ready for some Latin Jazz and be transported by the Rebecca Cline Trio. Rebecca Cline is a Boston-based pianist who has been performing jazz standards from Cuba and the US for over two decades. A luminary in the Cuban jazz world, Rebecca is a professor at Berklee College of Music and author of Latin Jazz Piano Improvisation: Clave, Comping, and Soloing. She will be joined by Keala Kaumeheiwa on bass and Bertram Lehmann on drums.
Then we have the energetic Greg Hopkins Quintet that has been active in the Boston and New England area for over 40 years. Greg Hopkins will play with Bill Pierce, Alain Mallet, John Lockwood, and Yoron Israel. As Greg puts it, “we’ve played every jazz joint and kept ‘em jumpin’”. Each of these band members is phenomenal on their own. Together they amass a jazz power that will keep you jumpin’ too!
Lastly, you’ll be swinging on a star at the final performance of this year’s Jazz Festival. Internationally acclaimed vocalist Carmen Bradford will join the dynamic Seacoast Big Band’s 18-piece orchestra on the Wilcox Main Stage. Carmen is a 2022 Grammy Nominee, has been a featured vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra, and is recognized as one of the finest big band vocalists today. Born into jazz royalty, Carmen is the daughter of legendary coronetist/composer Bobby Bradford and world-renown jazz vocalist/composer/author Melba Joyce. Her grandfather Melvin Moore sang with Lucky Millender and his Big Band; Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band; and the Ink Spots, making Carmen a third generation jazz legend. Add in the Seacoast Big Band and you’ve got a closing act worthy of fireworks!
A Brief History of the seacoast’s Annual Jazz Festival
This year marks the 39th year of the seacoast’s annual Jazz Festival. The first festival, named the Portsmouth Jazz Festival, was held in 1983. Later it became known as the Seacoast Jazz Festival, until today it is called the Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival.
The first festivals were held on Ceres Street—a collaboration between the city of Portsmouth, several local jazz musicians, and Dick Gallant from the Oar House. After a few years it was moved to Harbor Place, then Parrot Avenue. During the first 10 years the festival grew, and jazz musicians Tommy Gallant, Jim Howe, Dave Seiler, Alan Chase, and Louise Rogers from UNH all contributed input.
In 1990, with assistance from some UNH music faculty, a group of musicians got together and decided to form a nonprofit organization called the Seacoast Jazz Society, whose mission was to organize the annual festival, as well as support local jazz musicians, foster enthusiasm in the community for jazz, provide scholarships for young artists, and educate the public and musicians about this innovative artform. The Prescott Park Foundation was approached and agreed to set aside a Sunday in summer for the jazz festival, so the annual festival moved to Prescott Park. In 1996 the Seacoast Jazz Society renamed it the Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival, in honor of this legendary local jazz pianist, composer, and educator. This year marks the 26th Anniversary of the Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival.
Each year the festival plays host to some of the best local and regional jazz talent as well as internationally acclaimed musicians. Headliners that first year were Mick Goodrick and George Garzone, with performances by the Ted Casher Quintet, Puttin’ On the Ritz, and the Tommy Gallant’s Press Room Trio. Since then, many amazing jazz musicians have taken the stage, including famous trumpeter Clark Terry, drummer Louis Bellson, bassist Marshall Wood, vocalist Donna Byrne, guitarist Pat Metheny, and more.
Last year we were lucky to have internationally renowned saxophonists, Tucker Antell and Mike Tucker, and trumpeter, Trent Austin, perform at the festival. Seven groups in all took part in the festival. The final rousing performance of the day was the Seacoast Big Band, with two special guests, trumpeter Trent Austin and our own dynamic vocalist, Sharon Jones.
The Seacoast Jazz Society is grateful for all of the support it receives from individuals and the community. It is this support that makes the festival possible each year.
This year, the festival will be held on August 28th. The Seacoast Jazz Society is lining up a great mix of jazz artists from the local, regional, and national level. The final performance of the evening will feature the Seacoast Big Band with internationally acclaimed guest vocalist, Carmen Bradford, whose career was launched into fame when she became the vocalist for the Count Basie Band at the age of 22 and continued to perform with the greatest jazz artists of our time through the present day.
The Seacoast Jazz Society hopes you are as jazzed about the 2022 jazz festival and that you will help us continue this tradition well into the future by attending on August 28th!
For more information about the Seacoast Jazz Society’s events and projects, and to become a member, volunteer, or sponsor, go to: www.seacoastjazz.org.