Five-Point Preview: Allentown JazzFest

Tonight, Lehigh Valley Underground will be back in the Queen City to kick off Allentown JazzFest 2017. Our partners at Performing Arts Live! Inc. have been working tirelessly for months to bring a diverse, intriguing programming lineup that keeps with the improvisational spirit of jazz.

There are many things to look forward to over the course of the next five days. We’ve picked a few that you’ll definitely want to check out.

#LetsTalk: The 2017 version of Allentown JazzFest will begin Wednesday inside of Moravian Book Shop at 5:30 p.m. with knw.+ Couch Conversations, described as “a live talk show (which) interviews up and coming artists and influencers; and creates a space for the audience to engage in conversation about current events and trending topics.” The conversation, produced by youth empowerment company Arrow Up and independent production company Epic Down Time, will explore the connection between music and social responsibility. The event is free and open to the public, and will repeat in the same time and place on Thursday.

Some Like It ‘Hot’: Thursday at 7 p.m., acoustic ensemble Hot Club of Philadelphia will head just west of Center City to 187 Rue Principale in Emmaus for an intimate performance. The group performs a modernized take on Gypsy jazz, inspired by Django Rinehardt’s Hot Club of France Quintet.

Eye of the ‘Beholder’: Renowned local musicians Dan DeChellis (keys), J.P. Tomasic (guitar), and Zach Martin (drums) mix electronic elements with musical mastery and improvisation to form Beholder and give JazzFest an interesting element, Friday night at Centro (6 p.m.)

A Day (and Night) at the Museum: All day Saturday, JazzFest will emanate from Allentown Art Museum, beginning with a presentation from Gail W. Boyd, Esq. at 1 p.m. before turning up the music with Fajjr + Ali (2 p.m.), Dieruff High School Big Band (3 p.m.), Hot Bijouxx (4 p.m.), Andy Milne (5:30 p.m.), and headliner Jeff “Tain” Watts Trio (7:30 p.m.). These performances are free with admission to the museum.

Closing in a ‘Big’ Way: Saxophonist Dave Liebman is a well-studied NEA Jazz Master from NYU. Sunday at 3 p.m., he will be joined by the Moravian College Big Band at Zion UCC “Liberty Bell” Church to close JazzFest 2017.

Those are just some of the options at your disposal this year at Allentown JazzFest, but truthfully, you can’t go wrong no matter what you attend. Kudos to Bryan Tuk and his team on booking another top-notch festival!

One last note: if you’re in town Thursday night, we’ll be at The Dime at 9 p.m. for an old school R&B and funk dance party from DJ Dominic Longo. Come hang!

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