The long and storied history of jazz comes to life in Wilmington, NC in February at the 37th Annual North Carolina Jazz Festival. Three days of Dixieland and traditional jazz will light up the Wilmington Hilton Riverside ballroom February 2-4, 2017.
The festival began in 1980 through the efforts of local jazz enthusiast Harry VanVelsor, an area dermatologist. VanVelsor envisioned great jazz musicians from around the country and the world converging on Wilmington to jam and perform—and that’s what has come to pass.
Famous traditional jazz artists such as Art Hodes, Milt Hinton, Kenny Davern, Keter Betts, Bobby Rosengarden, Tony DiNicola, and Johnny Frigo are among the legendary jazz musicians who have performed at the NC Jazz Festival in Wilmington. And contemporary jazz stars including Dick Hyman, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ed Polcer, Houston Person, Wycliffe Gordon, Duke Heitger and Ken Peplowski have also made their way to this amazing event.
Sandy Evans, former president of the Cape Fear Jazz Society, now leads the NC Jazz festival and maintains the structure of traditional and Dixieland style jazz music, and the highest standard of jazz excellence.
Highlights of the NC Jazz Festival
Three nights of world-class jazz entertainment begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside ballroom.
- Thursday, Feb. 2 Special Event: Styles of Jazz: Listen to Wilmington favorites Sea Pans; Nnenna Freelon, an award-winning jazz vocalist, and her Trio; and Professor Cunningham’s traditional jazz jam. 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4: These 4 ½ hour concerts feature 14 all-star musicians in the traditional seven sets of six or seven players. Each set has a different leader. 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 4 Patron Brunch: This brunch concert features all of the all-star musicians. During the last hour, patrons who are musicians have the opportunity to play with the all-stars! 10:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
These Musicians will perform at the 2017 NC Jazz Festival
Find your favorite jazz musicians at the North Carolina Jazz Festival! The concerts will feature:
- Sydney natives Adrian Cunningham and Anita Thomas on saxophone
- Trumpet virtuoso Bruce Harris
- Chuck Redd on drums and vibraphone
- Miami trombonist Dion Tucker
- Herman Burney, a bassist based in D.C.
- Connecticut’s favorite trombonist, Jim Fryer
- New York violinist Jonathan Russell
- Katie Thiroux on bass and vocals
- Atlanta Pianist Kevin Bales
- Marion Felder, a drummer based in New York
- Nate Najar, guitarist and composer
- Trombonist Randy Reinhart from New York
- Wilmington’s own Sea Pans band
It only happens once a year – don’t miss the 37th annual NC Jazz Festival Feb. 2-4 in downtown Wilmington, NC.