Colored Musicians Club announces expanded jazz festival

Apr 18, 2017

One of Buffalo's historic cultural institutions celebrates 100 years of existence this year. To help mark their centennial, the Colored Musicians Club will host an expanded jazz festival this summer.

This year's festival, which begins July 24, will extend six days and, according to planners, will feature about 150 performers at several venues across town.

A musicians' union banner and vintage musical instruments are displayed on a small stage on the ground level of Buffalo's historic Colored Musicians Club. The club, as part of its centennial celebrations, is planning an expanded jazz festival to be held this July.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"One of our stages will be our upstairs stage that Monday with the Slow Roll," said Walter Kemp, board members and artistic director of the Colored Musicians Club. "On Tuesday we'll have Larkinville involved with the food truck, and then we'll come back upstairs with (bassist) Zuri Appleby. She had a chance to do a big tour and she'll be coming home to do our afterparty."

Other venues scheduled to host concerts during the festival week include Larkinville, Asbury Hall at Babeville, Hallwalls and Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Kemp wouldn't identify all of the major acts being pursued to perform, explaining that some were still in final contract talks. He did identify Jean Baylor, who along with her husband Marcus now plays as The Baylor Project, among the headliners. 

Congressman Brian Higgins joined Colored Musicians Club board members to announce the expanded festival schedule and to thank M&T Bank for its sponsorship of the event. Higgins also took the opportunity to renew his call for East Side redevelopment, including the choice of Central Terminal as a future train station, while celebrating the cultural history that was made in the neighborhood.

"Some of the world's most prolific jazz musicians performed at this club," Higgins said. "The likes of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald all impressed crowds in this building on the corner of Broadway and Michigan."

The Colored Musicians Club's plans for a larger festival coincide with celebrations of the institution's centennial.

"We have the City of Buffalo involved in this centennial," Kemp said. "That's what's important because this isn't just African-American history, this is Buffalo history."