Home Entertainment Madison Jazz Festival returns for 11-day event starting Thursday night

Madison Jazz Festival returns for 11-day event starting Thursday night

Performers at the 2023 Madison Jazz Fest will include (clockwise from top left) Lakecia Benjamin, Luis Perdomo, Dayna Stephens, and Miguel Zenón.  (Photo of Lakecia Benjamin by Elizabeth Leitzell. The rest of the photos are courtesy of the artists.)

Returning again from June 8-18, the Madison Jazz Festival will be holding events around Madison for people to come out and hear great music. The long-running festival has drawn upon local, national, and international talent to provide plentiful and interesting opportunities to come out and get engaged with the amazing musical genre.

Nickolas Moran has had a long history with the Madison Jazz Festival from being active in the Madison music scene since high school. He now is a producer for the 11-day event, but it is as a fan and as a performer that he is most excited to share this year’s offerings for the Madison community.     

“One of the things that it’s always been is a celebration of creative music in our area,” Moran told Madison365. “With the scheduling when there’s so many other types of music happening in Madison, it gets a little diluted with the jazz events and you can miss them sometimes. They’re not on people’s forefront. This Jazz Festival brings the music to the forefront for everybody, and one of our goals is to attract new audience members.”

Rick Flowers will perform at Penn Park on Wednesday, June 14.

Consistently building in scale and intention has been an important aspect for the music festival that kicks off on Thursday with Dayna Stephens Quartet at Cafe CODA. Moran is eager for people to come check out the creativity that Madison has to offer musically in a very local way, especially with opportunities like the DIG JAZZ concert at Penn Park on June 14 with Rick Flowers and Amalgam X.   

“For a city our size, it should be noted that our creative music scene is bigger than it should be,” Moran said. “We have a lot of riches here in Madison. I wouldn’t say an embarrassment of riches, but a lot of riches as far as great artistic talent. As a producer, I’m able to showcase that through people’s creative music.” 

Moran also spoke about other efforts to encourage community engagement with events such as the conversation with Miguel Zenón and Luis Perdomo on June 13 at St. Joseph Church (Good Shepherd Parish). The accomplished musicians will be performing their Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated El Arte del Bolero later that evening in celebration of the Cuban art form.

The last two days of the fest will be held mostly at the well-known UW Memorial Union Terrace. The UW-Madison campus location is sure to be alive with jazz over both days with additional opportunities such as a conversation and performance by the rising saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin on June 17 and a June 18 performance by Ranky Tanky with Lisa Fischer, known from Oscar-winning film “20 Feet from Stardom.”

“The scope has grown, so I encourage Madisonians that maybe think the Jazz Festival is just the Terrace dates just to check out the listings,” Moran said in light of the electric closing weekend. “We have Facebook events for everything so you can mark yourself interested in them and it’ll be on your calendar. There are tons of events happening so grab as much as you possibly can. Tons of free events, but there are also some ticketed events, as well.”

Moran himself will be performing in multiple events throughout the 11 days. Be sure to check out his Afro-Peruvian group, Golpe Tierra, at Warner Park to see for yourself what Madison has to offer.    


To see all the dates and event information for the upcoming Madison Jazz Festival, visit the Arts + Literature Laboratory website here