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Syracuse Jazzfest Lineup, Dates Announced inc. Ramsey Lewis, Mavericks, Rundgren

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
Canen, a 14-year-old vocalist from Ithaca, will be performing at Jazzfest this year as part of he local music lineup.

A little music in the afternoon at M-and-T bank in downtown Syracuse had to mean only one thing.

The line-up and dates of the M-and-T Syracuse Jazzfest were announced Wednesday.  The 35th edition of the popular jazz concert will feature Jazz icon Ramsey Lewis and his electric quintet on Friday. June 9th.  They’ll be followed by the high-energy group The Mavericks.

“We’re really thrilled that the Mavericks are coming back.  They’re great musicians.  It’s a little Americana, a little bit Tex-Mex, and Cuban, a mix of a lot of things.  And Ramsey Lewis is by far one of the greatest living Jazz legends.  He’s got an electric quintet coming in that’s doing all the Sun Goddess stuff that he did with the late Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire.”

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
Frank Malfitano is heading up his 35th Jazzfest, announcing dates and artist lineup Wednesday.

Founder and Executive Director Frank Malfitano says the Saturday Night, June 10th pair of Asleep at the Wheel and Todd Rundgren will help appeal to a broad audience.  County Executive Joanie Mahoney helped make the announcement…and says her support has continued for reasons beyond the music.

“There was a lot of county resources that were part of Jazzfest because it’s a free festival.  It’s open to the public.  It’s one of the great things that we as residents of the county get to do, get to do together, everybody’s included because it’s free and it’s one of the great things the county did.” 

Malfitano agrees.  He says reflecting on 35 years of organizing the event, it’s as much about bringing people together

“You know, young and old, black and white, gay and straight, everybody.  You know, there’s a dialogue that happens at Jazzfest.  We put everything else aside as a day and we get to celebrate who we are as nation, who we are as a people, and it’s our own music.  I don’t think it gets any more special than that.  I feel blessed and privileged to be part of that.”

The event will also feature local groups and youth musicians once again.  

  • Nick DiMaria
  • UAD
  • Canen
  • Soft Spoken Band

Other cultural partners include the Syracuse International Film Festival, which will be showing free music-themed films; The Onondaga Historical Association featuring a photo exhibit of 35 years of Jazzfest at its downtown museum; and an OCC exhibit of local art inspired by the event over the years.   This year’s M-and-T Syracuse Jazzfest is June 9th and 10th at Onondaga Community College.  


This year's Jazzfest will pay tribute to Oscar Peterson who passed away last October.  He was a 10-year president of the Jazz Fest Board.  Peterson also spent countless radio shifts announcing jazz on WAER FM-88.3.  At the Jazzfest announcement, WAER General Manager Joe Lee asked for amoment of silence for Peterson and the jazz musicians last in the past year:

  • Oscar L Peterson Jr.
  • Mose Allison
  • Pete Fountain
  • Jean 'Toots' Thielemans
  • Al Jarreau
  • Bob Cranshaw (Sonny Rollins Band)
  • Larry Coryell
  • Buckwheat Zydeco (nee Stanley Dural)
  • Victor Bailey (Soulbop, Weather Update) 
  • Alphonse Mouzon (Eleventh House) 
  • Stanley Abernathy (B B King Blues Band)
  • Clyde Stubblefield (Maceo Parker & Fred Wesley Band)

WAER is a longtime sponsor of Jazzfest.  Friday night, June 9th is dedicated as WAER-FM Syracuse University Night.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.