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Syracuse International Jazz Fest boasts big names for 38th edition

Four men standing and facing the camera
Syracuse International Jazz Fest
Syracuse International Jazz Fest
The Mavericks will headline the opening night of the Syracuse International Jazz Fest

The Syracuse International Jazz Fest returns to both downtown and Syracuse University for its 38th year this June. The headliners for the weekend include The Mavericks, Kenny G, and the O-Jays. Local Syracuse musicians will also take the stage, with scheduled performances by Baldwinsville middle schoolers and an SU student jazz combo, among others.

The lineup brings together a range of artists and styles, including straight-ahead jazz, Latin jazz, big band sounds and more. Jazz Fest founder and organizer Frank Malfitano said he hopes the wide range of performers appeals to everyone.

“[Jazz Fest] serves everyone in the community. It brings every population and demographic group out, ethnically, racially, socially.” said Malfitano. “If you go to a country concert, for example, you’ll see all country fans. You come to a Jazz Fest concert and you see the entire city… and I think that’s the value to sponsors.”

Malfitano said sponsors are a large part of what makes the event happen and works with them intensively to make the festival enjoyable for the whole community. (WAER is a media sponsor of Syracuse Jazz Fest.)

In addition to the fun of the weekend, Visit Syracuse head Danny Liedka said it brings an economic boost to the region.

“Fans come from everywhere, we’ve had fans from Canada, from India.” as well as from across the U.S., he said. “The economic impact was well over $1 million. But what I took away is that people wanted more, which really cements us as a music destination.”

Jazz Fest kicks off on Wednesday, June 26, with local musicians playing in bars and restaurants throughout Syracuse. The mainstage performances will take place June 27-29.

The festival concludes on Sunday with a Jazz Gospel service led by the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble in Syracuse University's Hendricks Chapel.

The entire lineup can be found here.

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.