Please visit Blumenthal Performing Arts for more information, or call the box office at (704) 372-1000.



April 7 – Kick Off at the Levine Center of the Arts Plaza

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Musical Activities at the Gantt Center:

Family First Presented by Novant Health:  The Standard Jazz Series | An Interactive Music Demonstration

All Ages, All Levels

Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month at the Gantt Center with The Standard featuring saxophonist Harvey Cummings II

The Standard Jazz Series creates an opportunity for fans and students alike to enjoy, learn and explore the building blocks and instruments used in jazz music. Master Class Instructor Harvey Cummings II will invite participants of all levels to engage with the band as they trace the story of America’s classical music – jazz – and discover everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-jazz with an Q & A session and interactive musical demonstrations.

Cummings concludes the afternoon (1 p.m. – 2 p.m. on the Gantt Plaza) with a selection of jazz music featuring phenomenal musicians for a unique blend of straight ahead jazz and cool vibes. Get ready for an unforgettable, multi-sensory experience that unites contemporary elements with the rich history of jazz culture!

Noon-4:30 p.m. Activities at the Bechtler:

Create your own Firebird Mosaic Collages on the museum plaza, or go inside to hear spin drums!

2-3:30 p.m. Jazzin’ on the Terrace at the Mint:

Join Charlotte poets, vocalist Nicci Canada, and area jazz musicians as they improv and play the best in jazz & blues tunes as a tribute to the upcoming Charlotte Jazz Festival, April 9-15.  With an early 1900s ‘juke joint’ theme (viewed by some as an indigenous black cultural experience of dancing, live music, and a rural night club setting), guests can hear improv blends that stirs one to move with toes tappin’ and fingers snappin’.

The set will be followed by a sparkling cider birthday salute to Gastonia Artist John Biggers who would be 94 on April 13.  Several of his works on canvas are on view in the Mint’s newly-installed contemporary art gallery.


Food trucks (noon-6 p.m.) and Cash Bar available outside!

Celebrate the opening of the latest Rare Roots Hospitality concept, Fin + Fino Restaurant!

All outdoor activities are FREE and open to the public!

Enjoy Museums on Us admission for Bank of America card holders; and members of the Gantt Center, Mint, and Bechtler will all receive free reciprocal admission to ALL THREE museums! Not a member? Visit each institution’s website to join, or, purchase an LCA Admission Pass good for all three museums!

April 9-15, 2018 Events

Location: Jazz Pavillion at Levine Center for the Arts
Performance Schedule: April 9-13, 2018
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts

Spend your lunch break at the Jazz Pavilion on the Levine Center for the Arts Plaza! It’s FREE! The Pavilion stage will feature some of Charlotte’s best jazz artists plus some special guests.

Lunch Hour Jazz Performance Schedule

Monday, April 9 · 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Tuesday, April 10 · 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Wednesday, April 11 · 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Thursday, April 12 · 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Friday, April 13 · 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM

No ticket! No reservation! No planning! Just bring your friends and discover some of Charlotte’s best musical treasures and how much fun can be had at the Charlotte Jazz Festival.

Location: Jazz Pavilion at Levine Center for the Arts
Performance Schedule: Thursday, April 12, 2018, 6:30 PM
Presented by:  Blumenthal Performing Arts

Join us for a singalong to the cast recording of Hamilton, the hit Broadway musical. All are welcome, whether you’ve seen the show, listened to the album, or just want to find out what the excitement is all about. Sing along in the chorus, or sign up for a solo so your voice can be heard.

If you would like to solo on stage, please CLICK HERE to sign up! Do not throw away your shot!

Location: Jazz Pavilion at Levine Center for the Arts
Performance Schedule: April 13-15, 2018
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts

 Join us Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon for free jazz concerts at the Jazz Pavilion on the Levine Center for the Arts Plaza! It’s FREE! Artists will be announced soon.

Jazz Pavilion Performance Schedule:
Friday, April 13 · 5:30 – 6:45 PM
Friday, April 13 · 7:00 – 8:15 PM
Friday, April 13 · 8:30 – 9:15 PM
Saturday, April 14 · 1:30 – 2:45 PM
Saturday, April 14 · 3:00 – 4:15 PM
Saturday, April 14 · 4:30 – 5:45 PM
Saturday, April 14 · 6:00 – 7:15 PM
Saturday, April 14 · 7:30 – 8:45 PM
Saturday, April 14 · 9:00 – 10:15 PM
Sunday, April 15 – 1:00 – 2:15 PM
Sunday, April 15 – 2:30 – 3:45 PM
Sunday, April 15 – 4:00 – 5:15 PM

No ticket! No reservation! No planning! Just bring your friends and discover some of Charlotte’s best musical treasures and how much fun can be had at the Charlotte Jazz Festival.

Location: Knight Underground
Performance Schedule: April 13-14, 2018, 1:30 PM
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts

Join us for Late Night Jams in the Knight Underground, a new speakeasy-themed hideaway located below the Knight Theater! Musicians performing as part of the Charlotte Jazz Festival keep the jazz going late into the night. These fan-favorite jam sessions are high-energy. totally improvised and the perfect nightcap. You never know who might show up…

Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Beardon Park
Performance Schedule: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 2:00 PM
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts

Charlotte legend Loonis McGlohon was a world-renowned master musician, composer, and visionary. In recognition of his many decades as a composer, writer, and jazz ambassador, Blumenthal Performing Arts and The Leon Levine Foundation established the Loonis McGlohon Young Jazz Artist Competition as a tribute to this special individual.

This competition is designed to celebrate the musical achievements of exemplary students, as well as prepare them for their futures as jazz artists. From the total number of applicants, up to 10 finalists will be selected to perform at the Loonis McGlohon Young Jazz Artist Competition on Saturday, April 14, 2018, during the Charlotte Jazz Festival. The competition will be judged by a panel of musicians from the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and each finalist will receive critiques from these artists during the competition. The winners of the competition will receive funding designated to enhance their music education; first place will receive $3,000, second place will receive $2,000, and third place will receive $1,000. Winners will also be offered assistance in booking performance opportunities for special Charlotte area events, and funding has been allocated to provide honorariums for the competition winners’ performances.

The competition is free and open to the public, so come and cheer for your favorite student!

Please visit Blumenthal Performing Arts for more information, or call the box office at (704) 372-1000.


Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park
Performance Schedule: Thursday, April 12, 2018, 7:30 PM | Tickets: Prices begin at $15.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


The Baylor Project featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor highly anticipated collaboration is steeped in the heart and soul of Jazz.  As the children of Pastors, Marcus and Jean’s musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make its mark. Their debut CD ” The Journey”, released on their own label, Be A Light, topped the Billboard Jazz Chart at number 8, solidifying The Baylor Project as an undeniable force.  As you listen to “The Baylor Project,” you will be taken on an eclectic musical journey that showcases as much versatility as it does virtuosity.

Jean, a “Jersey Girl”, was introduced to jazz in college as a Vocal Performance Major at Temple University, where she was heavily influenced by artists such as Carmen McCrae, Jimmy Scott, and Shirley Horn. She subsequently made her mark as one-half of the platinum recording duo, Zhane´.  In addition to continued development of her craft, Jean has expanded into composing, arranging, producing, and band leading. She has been a featured guest artist in performances and recordings with Yellowjackets, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller and legendary bassist, Buster Williams. Well-equipped with an agile mezzo-soprano range, Jean combines a fresh, whimsical approach to phrasing with clever improvisation resulting in a singing of such vocal purity that she embraces the soul.

Marcus, a St. Louis native, is widely recognized as the former member and drummer of the 3-time Grammy Award winning jazz quartet, Yellowjackets. While studying and graduating from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, he performed and recorded with musical icons Cassandra Wilson, John Scofield, and Kenny Garrett. Since then, Marcus has come into his own as a composer, arranger, producer, and bandleader. With his natural feel, creative use of space and innovative ability to tell a story, his musicianship and improvisation are those of a seasoned musician.

At last, these two are together on stage! At last, their innovation and talent are intimately entwined! Their combined musicianship is unmatched. Their dynamic performances are soulful to the bone. The Baylors will raise you up and inspire you to clap along with them, as they entice your ears with a swinging mid-tempo tune. Yet, at a moments’ notice, you may be moved to tears when they change the atmosphere with a spiritual song intended to stir the emotions. They perform original compositions and new arrangements of classic pieces. They utilize sincerity and maturity far beyond their years to deliver ballads with storied grace and elegance and grit. And what’s more is that Marcus and Jean have the uncanny ability to bridge the gap between generations. They are relatable, they are virtuosic, and for these reasons, they captivate packed houses and sold out audiences.

“The Baylor Project” pays homage to their wide-ranging musical influences, and in so doing, they generate an eclectic sound whose overall effect is spiritual, buoyant, and feel good music.

Soulful. Melodic. Authentic. “The Baylor Project.”

Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park
Performance Schedule: Friday, April 13, 2018, 5:30 PM | Tickets: Prices begin at $15.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


‘’If Cab Calloway, Outkast, and Lauryn Hill would have a love-child, it would sound like PARLOR SOCIAL.’’

Voted one of ‘Hot 100 Unsigned Live Artists and Bands in the USA’ by the national trade Magazine, Music Connection, PARLOR SOCIAL—Dessy Di Lauro (vocals), Ric’key Pageot (keyboards)—brings a fresh approach to the music scene. ”Not so much ragtime revivalists as post-hip-hop ragtime re-definers, this duo takes the old-school showmanship of Cab Calloway and beefs up the catchy speakeasy jive with throbbing electronics, all the while adopting a heavy dose of neo-soul. The buzz also tells us that this is a must-see live act.” remarks The Montreal Gazette.

PARLOR SOCIAL is fronted by Montreal-bred husband and wife writing team Dessy Di Lauro and Ric’key Pageot. Dessy provides sultry vocals that flawlessly encapsulate the spirit of Uptown’s early 20th Century cultural boom through the prohibition era, but she offers a timeless approach that’s all her own. Serving as musical director and pianist/ accordionist, Ric’key is either playing the squeezebox or tickling the ivories with an affable buoyant stride that promotes the infectiously festive atmosphere of their concerts.

Location: Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts
Performance Schedule: Friday, April 13, 2018, 7:30 PM  | Tickets: Prices begin at $20.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


With complex yet always-swinging rhythms, poetic and beautiful harmonic progressions, and iconoclastic, tuneful melodies, Monk’s compositions lend themselves to endless adaptation. Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis will take on Monk’s harmonies, demonstrating why this repertoire is a definitive platform for thoughtful improvisation and high-quality jazz.


Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park
Performance Schedule: Friday, April 13, 2018, 9:30 PM | Tickets: Prices begin at $15.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


 With conga player/vocalist Pedrito Martinez, bassist Sebastian Natal, pianist Edgar Pantoja-Aleman, and percussionist Jhair Sala

“Pedrito is a genius… working with him has been a revelation to me.” – Wynton Marsalis

“The Pedrito Martinez Group is writing a new chapter in Cuban music history” – NPR

Cuban-born and New York-based Pedrito Martinez is a master percussionist and an irrepressible bandleader. He has recorded or performed with such artists as Eddie Palmieri, Paul Simon, and Paquito D’Rivera, and his own group has become an essential voice in the evolving tradition of Afro-Cuban music and jazz. Though the group possesses a rare level of virtuosity, it never gets in the way of their ability to get a room moving. Martinez is also a member of the extremely popular and frequently sold-out Nuevo Jazz Latino program at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Don’t miss this rare Dizzy’s Club appearance by Martinez’ own group!

Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park
Performance Schedule: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 11:00 AM | Tickets: Prices begin at $15.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


Kick start your Saturday with Ocie Davis and very special guest Mark Braud as they brew up a jazz performance you don’t want to miss! Enjoy the sounds with a hot cup of joe or other beverages from the cash bar on site. Choose cabaret table seating for access to light hors d’oeuvres including fresh fruit, muffins, pastries, scones, Chicken and Waffle Cones, a Chicory Coffee Bar and more!

Mark Braud is a renowned trumpeter and vocalist. He previously served as the leader of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and can currently be found on television’s daytime talk show “Harry” with Harry Connick, Jr.

Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park
Performance Schedule: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 5:30 PM | Tickets: Prices begin at $15.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


JOEY DEFRANCESCO’s emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance. Organ jazz had been a form of music that literally went into hibernation from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties largely because of the introduction of high-tech, light-weight keyboards. It was Joey, however, that ignited the flame once again with the sound of his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie tone cabinet. He not only illuminated this once dormant music form but brought back the many proponents of jazz organ who had been shuffled by record producers and club owners to lesser roles within the music industry. Befriending and supporting those who preceded him, Joey became the new-age proponent of an instrument that had been pushed aside in favor of the growing technology.

Considered a child prodigy, Joey remembers as far back as age four, playing jazz tunes modeled by his father, Papa John DeFrancesco and memorizing music from the many jazz albums in their home. Papa John, a jazz organist himself, took young Joey under his wing and nurtured his rapidly developing skills, bringing Joey along with him to gigs, Joey would sit-in with as many seasoned Philadelphia musicians who were around. Legendary players like tenor saxophonist, Hank Mobley, or drummer, Philly Joe Jones, would soon become aware of young Joey DeFrancesco and acknowledge his enthusiasm. Joey’s grandfather and namesake, Joseph DeFrancesco, was the patriarch and, himself, a musician’s musician; able to pick up a new instrument and teach himself to play. This gift was passed down to young Joey and now manifests itself in Joey’s extraordinary keyboard skills; piano playing; and organ wizardry – not to mention his undeniable mastery of the trumpet.

Joey’s desire to play the trumpet began after touring with the great Miles Davis. An interesting encounter would introduce the two; Miles was a guest on a Philadelphia television program where Joey was a band member. Instead of critiquing the featured high school trumpet players, Miles inquired about the organ player and quickly gathered Joey’s contact information. Joey would soon become one of the two youngest musicians ever to be asked by Miles to join the band (the other being Tony Williams). Years later, it would be Joey who would be complimenting his own jazz organ performances with exciting bursts of trumpet tones in the notably influenced style of former employer, Miles Davis.

Initially, Joey signed an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records that resulted in and a series of well-received albums and CDs that lifted Joey’s reputation and stardom higher and higher. The roster of world-class musicians with whom Joey would play and record with amazed the music world. The phenomenon, known as Joey DeFrancesco, soon became a household name in the jazz world as he began to tour internationally with his own quartet and eventually trim his group to a trio that boasted the guitar work of Paul Bollenback and drumming of Byron ‘Wookie’ Landrum. This trio would become the longest running organ trio in modern times.

The list of established musicians who felt inspired to perform with Joey grew. At twenty-two, Joey was called upon by guitarist, John McLaughlin to form the group, ‘Free Spirits’ which included band member Dennis Chambers. This band toured extensively for four years as the sphere of Joey’s influence went global.

Today, Joey has been around the world dozens of times touring & recording with his own trio as well as part of all-star projects, some of which include, Ray Charles, David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Frank Wess, Benny Golson, George Coleman, James Moody, Steve Gadd, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, George Benson, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Larry Coryell and Bobby Hutcherson, not to mention the myriad of foreign jazz artists that he’s collaborated with as he travels.

Joey is a three-time Grammy Nominee: In 2004 for his record ‘Falling In Love Again’, in 2010 for his release titled ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ and, again, in 2014 for “Enjoy the View”. Winner of Down Beat Magazine’s Critic’s poll 2002-2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 as well as the magazines Reader’s Poll every year since 2005. In 2014 he was inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame, and in 2016 Joey was inducted into Philadelphia’s Music Walk of Fame.

Quoted as the Master of the Jazz organ, Joey has received countless Jazz Journalist awards, and accolades worldwide.

Joey has been involved in product designs and endorsements that serve to further the advances of digital organ technology in the States and around the world.

Currently, Joey continues to tour with his own group and perform with all-star projects in major jazz clubs and festivals internationally.

He is the weekly radio host of “Organized” on SiriusXM.

New recordings and creative musical projects are all vital components in Joey DeFrancesco’s future as he continues to write, perform and stand at the forefront of the digital technology that replicates the classic Hammond organ/Leslie speaker sound.

With over thirty recordings as a leader and numerous collaborations with the masters of modern jazz in his legacy, Joey DeFrancesco deservingly takes his place with Fats Waller, Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith in the lineage of Jazz Organ.


“…ranging from sublime to positively pyrotechnic… the best B3 player on the planet” – Jazz Times

“Mr. DeFrancesco is a deeply authoritative musician, a master of rhythmic pocket, and of the custom of stomping bass lines beneath chords and riffs.” -New York Times
“The quicksilver nature of his technique, fluidity of his ideas [and] musicality of his phrases … have placed him in a category by himself among contemporary jazz organists.” Chicago Tribune

“No organist today plays with the skill, harmonic depth, and authority of this phenomenon from Philly.” -Jazz Police

“DeFrancesco’s consummate mastery of his chosen instrument should really be seen as well as heard to be thoroughly appreciated.” -All About Jazz

Location: Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts
Performance Schedule: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 7:30 PM | Tickets: Prices begin at $20.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis offers a truly unique way to celebrate Bernstein’s legacy. Grammy Award-nominated composer Richard DeRosa and JLCO trombonist Vincent Gardner will craft arrangements of Bernstein’s music, including West Side StoryCandide, and several unexpected gems.

Location: The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park
Performance Schedule: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 9:30 PM | Tickets: Prices begin at $15.00
Presented by: Blumenthal Performing Arts


Whether fulfilling the role of vocalist, emcee, showman, or impresario, Michael Mwenso conveys both the sophistication and spontaneity of hardcore jazz and the music’s folkloric roots with impeccable craft, creativity, and communicative flair.

Most frequently, Mwenso performs as leader—or ringleader—of Michael Mwenso and The Shakes, a revue comprising between three to five vocalists (they include himself, Brianna Thomas, Charenee Wade, and Vuyo Sotashe) and a rotating ensemble that includes rising stars like drummers Joe Saylor and Jamison Ross, pianist Chris Pattishall, trumpeters Alphonso Horne and Bruce Harris, and tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. From time to time, internationally acclaimed singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and pianists Jonathan Batiste, Aaron Diehl and Sullivan Fortner—among others—augment this close-knit musical family. All developed their ideas and accrued public visibility at late night shows booked and overseen by Mwenso since 2012 (when he joined Jazz At Lincoln Center as Curator and Programming Associate) at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at JALC’s complex in New York’s Time-Warner Center.

Mwenso, 31, developed his unique skill sets through the course of several eventful life journeys. Born in 1984, he lived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in West Africa until age 10, when his single mother brought him to London, England. He began singing and playing piano, then trombone, and by 13 was touring with an old-school swing band. During these formative years, he also immersed himself in recordings of American jazz and roots music. His learning curve rose dramatically after his mother, who worked as a nightclub hostess, decided to have him spend nights at the internationally prestigious Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, whose floor manager was a family friend. Mwenso took advantage of a singular opportunity to witness, talk to and learn from jazz giants like Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Betty Carter, Benny Carter, Tommy Flanagan and Johnny Griffin, all attracted by his superior knowledge of their recordings. His charismatic blend of raw talent and precocious erudition also drew the attention of James Brown, who offered Mwenso the signal honor of a guest spot singing and dancing at his UK engagements when he was 14, 15 and 16.

At 16, Mwenso left school and turned professional. He played trombone in reggae and Afrobeat horn sections (including a group led by drum legend Tony Allen) and jammed with American expat drummer Clifford Jarvis and London’s strongest African- and Caribbean-descended hardcore jazz musicians. At 21, he started to focus on singing, most consequentially in a four-voice group, mixing well-wrought high-velocity bebop vocalese and scat, the blues, standards, and Black American folk music. They performed not infrequently at Ronnie Scott’s, where in 2007 Mwenso established a late-night jam session. Under his ministrations, it soon became a go-to spot not just for jazz musicians, but millennial generation dancers, actors, artists and general music fans.

In 2009, Wynton Marsalis—who met and befriended Mwenso in 1997—played a week at Ronnie Scott’s. After witnessing the vibrant scene that Mwenso had coalesced, he invited him to move to New York, with a mandate to attract a younger, broader audience to Dizzy’s and JALC, while retaining values consistent with Marsalis’ “all jazz is modern” mantra. Mwenso’s success in accomplishing this mission is evident: the Shakes were featured on the November 17, 2015, edition of Christian McBride’s Jazz Night In America on NPR, and performed at the Kennedy Center’s 2015 New Year’s Eve Gala.

“You’re getting a generation of holistic musicians who love Louis Armstrong just as much as Woody Shaw, Sidney Bechet as much as Ornette Coleman,” Mwenso says. “They want to be free in all styles of music—free in themselves. We’re figuring out ways to play this music as art, but as entertainment, too.”

Please visit Blumenthal Performing Arts for more information, or call the box office at (704) 372-1000.