Music Festivals Galore in Northfield

If you think that Vintage Band Festival is all that Northfield, Minnesota has to offer, think again! There are three music festivals in July and one in August. In addition, every Saturday there is an open-air market with produce vendors, food trucks, and artisans of all kinds from 9 am – 1 pm.

Why not stay in Northfield for the summer? This week we’ll explore the inaugural Northfield Jazz Festival.

The Northfield Jazz Festival is set to take off in Northfield, MN on Sunday, July 14. The core of the festival will occur in Way Park from 1 to 5pm, featuring three bands led by Northfield resident jazz musicians: pianist Laura Caviani, vibraphonist Dave Hagedorn, and trombonist JC Sanford. This will be followed by a jam session at Imminent Brewing (519 Division St S #2) in downtown Northfield hosted by Jack Schabert’s Blue Ox Trio. All events are free and open to all ages. Festival Director JC Sanford received a 2024 Southeast MN Arts Council Grant (SEMAC) to fund much of the festival and has partnered with the Friends of Way Park organization to organize the event.

Opening up the festival at 1pm, JC Sanford’s Imminent Standards Trio was named for his frequent appearances at Northfield’s own Imminent Brewing before the pandemic put a pause on live performances. He went on to record two volumes of recordings of jazz standards (Imminent Standards Trio, Vol. 1 & 2), and this performance will feature the personnel of Vol. I, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Phil Hey. When discussing this group, Scott Yanow of LA Jazz Scene says, “In addition to his fluent technique, Sanford has an expressive tone of his own, a sound that holds one’s interest in this sparse setting.” Sanford still regularly performs in New York City and internationally as a trombonist/composer/conductor and is commonly recognized as a “Rising Star” trombonist in DownBeat Magazine’s annual critics’ polls.

Maintime is a group of musicians that formed in 1999 to explore the music of Keith Jarrett, Kenny Wheeler, Jan Garbarek, and other performers influenced by the ECM record label in the 1970s. The band consists of Chris Olson, guitar, Jay Epstein, drums, Kevin Clements, bass, and Dave Hagedorn, vibraphone. Andrea Canter of Jazz Police has said, “The empathy among these musicians is immediately apparent from the first chords.” Their recording In the Meantime is available on BandCamp, and they will appear at 2:30pm.

For over 10 years, the Laura Caviani Trio has featured bassist Chris Bates and drummer Dave Schmalenberger. For this special performance, they will feature selections from their recordings Confluence and Mysterious Thelonious, along with recently written vocal originals fresh from Laura’s Carleton sabbatical. They also play every Sunday for the First Service at Plymouth Congregational church in Minneapolis. Pamela Espeland of MinnPost described Mysterious Thelonious as a “a joyous romp through ten of [Thelonious Monk’s] tunes, played by someone who knows them intimately yet continues to discover new things about them.” They will close out the Way Park portion of the festival at 4pm.

Though only recently a graduate of St. Olaf College in May, Jack Schabert has already released two recordings as a leader with a third on the way. In additional their frequent performances at Twin Cities venues like MetroNOME and kj’s hideaway, the Blue Ox Trio have also performed at numerous private events and nursing homes throughout the state. The jam session at Imminent Brewing will occur from 6 to 9pm.

There will also be food trucks: Praeliza Fusion Kitchen at Way Park and Deep Roots at Imminent Brewing.

The Northfield Jazz Festival is taking tax-deductible donations for operating support and funding for this year and beyond through their fiscal sponsor Zeitgeist. Any sponsors and/or donors interested in financially supporting the festival or any volunteers looking to be involved should contact JC Sanford at Planning for the 2025 festival is already underway.

Tune in next week when we’ll talk about the Noontime Organ Recital Series in July and the August Bridge Chamber Music Festival.

Laura Caviani, Dave Hagedorn, JC Sanford (photo credit David Milne)