Charles Christie, lead organizer of the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, has had a lifelong passion for Hartford, family and music. In 1996, he was invited by the board to build the presence of the festival, so he began by incorporating arts and crafts vendors to attract more visitors. Almost 20 food vendors and almost 60 Arts & Craft, Health & Human, and Services vendors set up shop on the Bushnell Park lawn every summer for three days in July.
“The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz is now woven into the fabric of the city.”
Christie is part of a 12-member team that creates this widely renowned “destination event,” as people fly in from around the country to participate in celebrating all things Jazz. On the more local spectrum, residents from the capital region have been known to block the weekend off as a “stay-cation” to make sure they grab a spot at the park, before the thousands of yearly visitors arrive. “Some Hartford families, schools, and businesses even use our event as a place to host their class reunions,” remarked Christie. “The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz is now woven into the fabric of the city.”
The theme of this year’s Festival is “A Mixed Bag of Jazz.” The event will feature performances of styles including New Orleans, Smooth and Contemporary, Latin, and ‘Straight Ahead.’ A personal highlight of Christie’s will be trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis’s headlining appearance on Friday, July 19. Other performers include The Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Rohn Lawrence, Jazmin Ghent, Julian Vaughn, Braxton Brothers, Studio 860/SideStreet Dancers, Personal Touch, Zaccai Curtis, Steve Clark, Jonathan Barber, and Nat Reeves.
The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz certainly has come along way since its roots, having started literally on the back of a pick-up truck. “Being able to see all the hard work come to life in Bushnell Park is wonderful,” Christie added. “I enjoy when I can walk through the park and see the smiles, creative set-ups and be able to listen to the sounds transcend throughout the park for everyone to hear. It feels good…this is a feel-good event we are proud of.”
The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz will take place in Bushnell Park from July 19 through July 21. More information about the festival can be found on their website. Summer in the City, which is made possible by United Technologies, is a program of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Hartford.