Spotlight: Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival; Generation IV Dance at Academy of Music

Published: 8/9/2019 8:29:26 AM
Modified: 8/9/2019 8:29:15 AM

A jazzy day in Springfield

Greenfield has long staked a claim as the site of the area’s biggest summer musical get-together with the Green River Festival. Now Springfield is making a pitch to become one of the region’s key centers for jazz festivals.

The Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival, now in its sixth year, has become a showcase for well-known names in jazz as well as up-and-coming musicians, both from this region and beyond. The free, all-day show, held on different stages, has also become a celebration of civic pride in Springfield, bringing as many as 10,000 people to the city’s downtown, according to organizers.

In addition, the festival has a close connection to the legendary and beloved saxophonist Charles Neville of Huntington, who died last year. Neville’s wife, Kristin Neville, alongside Springfield musicians and activists, was a key founder of the event, and Charles Neville also played at the festival and gave music lessons at the Springfield Community Music Center. One of the two big stages at the festival is now named after him.

This year’s Jazz and Roots Festival takes place Saturday, Aug. 10 in Court Square in downtown Springfield from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on two main stages, with two “After Party” shows scheduled from 10 p.m. to midnight at MGM Plaza (one of those performances features the Khalif Neville Trio, a group led by Charles Neville’s son, a pianist and composer).

The Main Stage (named after Charles Neville) will feature world music, jazz, and roots artists from around the country and Valley, including the Billy Arnold Trio (led by the Springfield musician and teacher who’s known as “The Ultimate Soul Doctor”) and Grammy-nominated saxophonist Tia Fuller, who began her career as member of Beyoncé’s all-female touring band and has now played with many other musicians.

Meantime, the Urban Roots stage will feature diverse local acts playing everything from dance to hip hop and R&B, including Bomba de Aqui and Molly Tigre.

Pop-up stalls from local restaurants and food trucks will also be on hand, offering Creole to Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine, and other vendors will be selling art, handmade crafts, and CDs and vinyl. For more information, visit springfieldjazzfest.com.

The return of a hometown dancer

Southampton native Teddy Forance has long made a name for himself as a dancer, performing around the world with big names like Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, and many others. He also was nominated for an Emmy award several years ago for his choreographic work on “Dancing With the Stars” and was featured on the Oxygen Network’s “All the Right Moves,” a reality show about his dance troupe, Shaping Sound.

This Friday and Saturday, Aug. 9 and 10, Forance is back in the Valley to rejoin family members and other performers for Generation IV Dance, a three-show performance at Northampton’s Academy of Music, with each show offering varied dance styles that have in turn been choreographed by leading figures in the industry, including Forance.

Those dancers, according to the Academy, boast credits that link them to films, Broadway and TV shows, and music videos and live performances with musicians such as Justin Timberlake, Usher, Carrie Underwood, PINK, Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Celine Dion and others. Dancing alongside these artists will be students from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Scotland.

Friday’s show takes place at 7 p.m., and two shows on Saturday are scheduled at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. For tickets and additional information, visit aomtheatre.com.

— Steve Pfarrer




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