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Downtown International Jazz Festival

A flagship music festival in Queens aims to celebrate the rich jazz heritage and to promote new music made and performed by living musicians


Downtown International Jazz Festival, a flagship music festival in Downtown Jamaica, Queens in the second week of July every year, aims to celebrate the rich jazz heritage rooted in Southeast Queens and to promote generations of talents hailed from diverse cultures reside in the community. This festival will not only be paying tribute to living legendary jazz musicians, but also empower the younger generations of musicians in all backgrounds to embrace their heritages and creativity.

This weekend-long music marathon will be presented in partnership with the Queens Public Library, King Manor, and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation in the public and private open spaces along the Jamaica Avenue to create a walkable summer festivity for residents and tourists alike.

In addition to the live music performances, JCAL curates numerous of programs to enhance the music experience for visitors and musicians, including:

JazzWalk: a guided walking tour available for participants to learn about all the great jazz history from the “home of jazz”. Queens has been the “home of jazz,” the residence of choice for hundreds of the legendary players, such as Count Basie, Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, , to name a few . The award-winning Queens Jazz Trail (originally commissioned by Flushing Town Hall) shows the different neighborhoods and sites that are part of this hidden jazz history. The JazzWalk will bring the hidden history to life and accompanied by great live music experience.

Conference:  A series of jam sessions, forums, and discussions in the week of the festival designed to empower young generation of musicians by exchanging ideas or jamming with their idols.

The diverse talents presented in the inaugural year of the festival in 2019, including Milford Graves, Jason Moran, Tyshawn Sorey, Don Byron, Sumi Tonooka, Pheeroan akLaff, Don Byron, Jonathan Finlayson, Giveton Gelin, Morgan Guerin, Jarawa Brian Gray, Keith Jordan, Flamenco Latino, Roopa Mahadevan, Secret Mall, Chris Morrissey, Tomoko Omura, Simona Premazzi, Napoleon Ravels-Bey, Kendra Shank, and Camille Thurman, demonstrated the quality and commitment of the festival to present new music by living musicians of today. Jazz is not an aging art form, but an alive and energized industry that needs a platform like the Downtown International Jazz Festival to showcase the talents.

JCAL is requesting $10,000 to support the festival as artists fees to support the young bands at $1,000 levels for 10 bands. All live performances at the festival are free to the public, except for the opening night concert on Friday evening and headliner concert on Saturday evening.

Proposed Line Up for 2020
: Bill Laswell & John Zorn
Opening Night Concert: Nat Adderley Jr.
Line-up for free live performances: Yosvany Terry (Cuba), Amir ElSaffar (Iraq), Trina Basu, Melvis Santa, Jure Pukl – Tenor, Kweku Sumbry (West Africa), Thana Alexa (Slovania), Arta Jakobsone (Latvia), Pedro Giraudo (Argentina), Miki Hayama (Japan), Roman Filiu (Cuba), Dezron Douglas (USA),  Michael Rodriguez (Cuba/Queens), Firas Zreik (Israel) Edmar Castaneda (Columbia), Henry Cole (Puerto Rico),and JK Kim (Korea).

Project Media

Downtown International Jazz Festival _ 2019
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an excerpt from the inaugural festival in 2019

Janama Marana by Mirabai
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work sample by Trina Basu, co-founder of the Brooklyn Raga Massive. She is one of the proposed line-up for 2020.

Start and End Dates



Queens, New York

Project Created By

In Collaboration With

Co-Artistic Director
Montclair, New Jersey


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