“I set out to create something that shares my love of jazz, of music performance, and of Stowe with as many people as possible,” says George Petit of the Stowe Jazz Festival, which he founded and has directed since its inception in 2017.
Petit, a world-renowned musician and producer who three years ago returned to Stowe, is the driving force behind the fest, which returns for its third outing Sept. 6-8. The festival infuses Stowe with jazz and its subgenres at its Mainstage at the Alchemist Brewery, and at seven other venues.
And, best of all, every event is free of charge, as is parking. This vision has garnered an outpouring of community support, with business sponsors, private donors and local volunteers helping to keep things free and easy for jazz fans.
Petit last year started the process of having the festival become a nonprofit organization, to develop an organizational structure that will ensure its sustainability. “Sooner or later, it will take a village,” he said last year. “But not until we’re a 501c3 and we can start paying people to do their jobs.”
The festival gathers nearly 100 jazz artists from around the world, performing everything from bebop and swing to progressive jazz, Brazilian and gypsy jazz.
This year’s fest features several favorites from the first two editions, including acclaimed Brazilian jazz guitarist Chico Pinheiro — returning for the third straight year — red-hot tenor sax standout Donny McCaslin, and lauded drummer Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom.
Pinheiro and his quartet bring an authentic Brazilian jazz flavor that is rarely heard in Vermont. McCaslin returns with his acclaimed quartet – handpicked by the late David Bowie to back the legendary artist on his final album, “Black Star” — performing in support of his stellar 2018 album, “Blow.”
And Miller is a highly respected drummer on the New York City scene — the All Music Guide calls her “one of the finest drummers on the scene, but also one of the most innovative compositional voices.” Miller has played with big-time singer-songwriters like Brandi Carlile, Natalie Merchant and Ani DiFranco. But she also leads her own compelling five-piece group, performing in support of her latest album, “Glitter Wolf,” released in February.
But most artists are new to the festival. New York City bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton brings her spirited ensemble, Bonegasm — a seven-piece featuring four trombones — in support of her 2019 release of the same name. Jazziz said the “effervescent album captivates as it ranges between the intimate and the orchestral, with plenty of whimsy.”
Other highlights include Israeli-born, New York City-based tenor saxophonist Ofer Assaf, performing with a killer quartet that includes guitarist extraordinaire Alex Skolnick. And Brazilian bass virtuoso and signer Ebinho Cardoso, and esteemed New York City guitarist Steve Cardenas performing with his trio. Cardenas and Pinheiro will also join acclaimed guitarist Anthony Wilson – a longtime fixture on the Los Angeles jazz and improvised music scene – for a quartet performance with standout bassist Ben Allison.
The lineup includes a variety of out-of-town acts that typically don’t include Vermont on their itinerary, a result of Petit’s connections in places like New York, Brazil, Los Angeles and France. And his commitment to high-quality jazz is a distinguishing trait of the festival.
Petit calls the festival’s third outing a “musical extravaganza.” “The Stowe Jazz Festival celebrates acclaimed musicians from near and far,” he says, “and truly brings the joy of jazz to anyone who wants to be a part of it.”
“Stowe welcomes everyone to be together and share music, community, fun and diversity.”
Alchemist MainstageFriday, Sept. 6
1:00 – Daniel Ian Smith and the New Generations Sextet
3:00 – Jonathan Maron
5:00 – Ebinho Cardoso Quintet
7:00 – Donny McCaslin Quintet
Saturday, Sept. 7
1:00 – Gary Smulyan and the New York Saxophone Band
3:00 – Steve Cardenas Trio
5:00 – Ofer Assef Quartet
7:00 – Chico Pinheiro Quartet
Sunday, Sept. 8
1:00 – Paul Asbell Quintet
3:00 — Allison Miller & Boom Tic Boom
5:00 – Anthony Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Chico Pinheiro and Ben Allison
7:00 — Jennifer Wharton & Bonegasm