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ALL Jazz Fest (multiple venues, free)

  • Arts + Literature Laboratory 2021 Winnebago Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

Russ Johnson and Brennan Connors & Stray Passage are among the highlights at this inaugural, free jazz festival. Info

Russ Johnson

Russ Johnson

For their first-ever shot at a music festival, the folks at the non-profit venue Arts + Literature Laboratory have done a fine job of gathering an ensemble of local and regional artists who represent the spectrum of jazz from the approachable to avant-garde, and also showcase jazz’s intersections with other musical languages through the years. In that sense, the festival is very much of a piece with the impressive lineups of touring and local jazz artists ALL has been bringing to Madison on a routine basis.  Across one evening, 17 different groups will take stages across five different venues. At ALL’s home base, there is trumpeter Russ Johnson’s Headlands Quartet at ALL, with an exciting assist from Chicago-based saxophonist Greg Ward. Johnson, director of Jazz Studies at UW-Parkside in Kenosha, is a virtuosic player who reinvents songs without completely eschewing tradition. His 2014 album Meeting Point features songs like “Lithosphere,” which resemble traditional jazz at some points but at others break into weird and uncanny sequences of sound. The mostly improvisational sax-led trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage, playing at Union Hair Parlor, moves things further into challenging territory. And at Alchemy, there’s Tony Castañeda’s Latin Jazz Band, who’ve been dishing out a vintage but expansive approach to Latin jazz in Madison for more than 20 years. There's yet more music at several spots near the intersection of Winnebago Street and Atwood Avenue, so be sure to browse the full schedule. —Henry Solo

Earlier Event: May 4
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Later Event: May 4
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