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Soul, Scat and Saxophone

Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival celebrates another successful year

Celina Colby | 10/5/2017, 6 a.m.
The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival enjoyed another successful run on Saturday, Sept. 30, despite rainy weather. The annual free festival ...
Camille Thurman at jazz fest Kelly Davidson

The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival enjoyed another successful run on Saturday, Sept. 30, despite rainy weather. The annual free festival is Boston’s biggest block party, shutting down six blocks of Columbus Avenue and offering three music stages to hear the best Boston has to offer in jazz, Latin, blues and funk.

This year’s lineup featured Kina Zoré, a Boston-based Afropop group; Camille Thurman and the Darrell Green Trio; Jazzmeia Horn, described by the New York Times as “a jazz vocalist on the rise;” and many others. Berklee College of Music graduate Emily Estefan, the daughter of Latin music icons Gloria and Emilio Estefan, also performed, taking on a sound completely unique from her parents. Gloria and Emilio reportedly were in Boston to see the performance.

Kina Zoré front man Helder Tsinine hails from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. His band’s mission is to share the music of that region with Boston, although its simpler aim is “an invitation to dance.” The music merges traditional African rhythms with electric, contemporary jazz beats. During Tsinine’s childhood, Maputo was torn by a civil war and he witnessed the horrors of human violence up close. His music is positive and uplifting, seeking harmony in a difficult world.

Jazzmeia Horn may be blessed with a bold personal style and share name with the famous Lena, but she possesses serious talent as well. Horn’s jazz journey began in the church choir in her native Dallas before she moved to New York to pursue music at The New School. In 2015, she won the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. In her artist statement, she says, “I am thankful for the opportunity to play music professionally and have a deep desire to uplift the souls of others in need through my artistry.”

Camille Thurman is a singer, composer and saxophonist, exuding excellence in all areas of jazz creation. At the festival on Saturday, she performed with the Darrell Green Trio. Green, too, is multi-talented, as a drummer and a composer. The two create such a natural marriage of sound, you’d think they always come as a set.

In addition to the rich musical roster, the festival featured an instrument “petting zoo,” a KidsJam stage, food vendors and a series of arts booths. This year, the power of the festival was especially clear, as crowds of people made their way out in the pouring rain to dance collectively to the soulful scatting and saxophone.