It’s the weekend to welcome Wynton and Aretha

Back at the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest news conference in the downtown bank lobby, fest founder and director Frank Malfitano hangs with the young musicians of band Notified as press and dignitaries wait for the unveiling of the acts.

Back at the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest news conference in the downtown bank lobby, fest founder and director Frank Malfitano hangs with the young musicians of band Notified as press and dignitaries wait for the unveiling of the acts.

It’s a huge weekend for music where I live.

Wynton Marsalis leads the Lincoln Center Orchestra onto the stage of the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest as the headliner Friday night. If you’ve never had the opportunity to sit in the same place as, oh, a couple dozen of the best jazz players on the planet playing pieces that have stood the test of popular history — and have also been arranged by the great jazz mind of our time — I strongly suggest it.

Saturday night, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin wraps up the two days of music. She’s merely one of the few people who truly deserves the tag legend, a woman who has been bringing it since the 60s, deserving every ounce of respect sent her way.

In front of them will come a rising star band in Lake Street Dive, and another veteran Lousiana king in Buckwheat Zydeco.

And before those get-people-ready-for-the-headliners we’ll professionals from our Central New York area and spreading out through upstate, the AppleJazz and Upstate Burners.

Both days will kick off with collectives of great scholastic musicians, the city of Syracuse Parks & Rec All-Stars and Notified.

That, my friends, is how you serve, spread and savor the passion of music. Young and talented. Local, great and proud. Coming and staying. Big and bold.

Free admission, save for a $5 parking fee before 6 p.m., $10 thereafter. If you live within driving distance of the Onondaga Community College campus, it will be crowded. Find your piece of ground, make your peace with your neighbors, and enjoy.

I wrote more about the festival, including a Q and A with fest founder and executive director Frank Malfitano, for Syracuse Public Media site You can read my Mark It Up community column by clicking the link below.

Have you seen any of the bands at this fest, and if so, what did you think? Do you prefer big band, soul or zydeco, and why? Would talk of big crowds attract you or keep you away, and why?

37 thoughts on “It’s the weekend to welcome Wynton and Aretha

  1. Wow, you have it all Mark, you have died and gone to Jazz Heaven, what a fantastic line up, and wouldn’t have been a success without Aretha Franklin doing the closing.
    You have my envy.


  2. I know it’s jazz, but I sure do hope you get to hear Do Right from Ms. Aretha. Wouldn’t that be a treat! I sing it into my spatula most Sunday mornings but not quite the same effect:).


    • Spatula singing can be some of the most soul-satisfying anwhere, Kay! And I’m sure Aretha will touch on the whole array of her Do Right style at our Jazz Fest, not to be limited by any labels. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m still smiling at the thought of you letting loose on some great soul, my friend. Go for it, Kay. โค


  3. Ooh, no, never seen either of them live.
    I love big band, big time! I’m picky about soul and zydeco.
    I almost never go to concerts anymore, and prefer the quiet, small stage gigs now ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. I just saw Wynton’s Lincoln Center Orchestra in Cincinnati last weekend and it was so amazing! I saw Aretha last year and she has still got it too. Sounds like you have a lot of great music in store!


  5. That sounds like a great event. I can’t believe it’s free, except for the parking! Hope you have a great time!

    I’m not usually a fan of big crowd events. We don’t go to many concerts, but the ones we do see are usually in smaller venues.


  6. Wow! You’re very lucky to have such big names so accessible to you! Those are legends. Yep, I always shrink from big crowds but if you’re going to a concert, there’s usually no way around them.


  7. You guys seem to have an exciting time up in your neck of the woods. I would love to go to a Jazz Festival. Big crowds do make me a bit nervous, but I would definitely come to this festival if closer.


  8. I love music. Preference depends on mood, really. I wish I had the pleasure of seeing any of those artists. We have a summer long festival close to us called Ravinia that attracts a wonderful array of musicians, renowned and up-and-coming, and it is not the crowds that put me off. Tickets usually go on sale during the winter. I forget to stalk the website, and everything gets sold out before I have a chance to snatch something up. I’ve finally learned my lesson and put in a computer alert for next year.


      • I have seen Wynton but not Aretha or the others listed. I liked a zyde o band I heard one time. Which part are you most excited about, Mark?
        The price is so affordable! I liked how you said some of the best jazz artists “on the planet!” Sounds fun!!


      • I am looking forward to Wynton and the big band the most, Robin, and Aretha a very close second. Just a smidge between them. Buckwheat Zydeco next, and all the rest are tied for fourth. I’m looking forward to seeing Lake Street Dive for the first time; I’ve heard so many good things about their live show. ๐Ÿ™‚


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