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Edgefest 2016: 20 Years at the Edge

An international festival; presenting new music, composed and improvised; concerts, master classes and free events in downtown Ann Arbor.


Kerrytown Concert House (KCH) presents its 20th annual avant garde jazz and creative new music festival, Edgefest: 20 Years at the Edge; a celebration of this unique festival as a defining event in our creative jazz community with a unifying purpose; to explore new music created by today’s composer/performers from the US and abroad, illuminating their various innovative roles in the avant/jazz world of today. The roster will include several artists selected from former Edgefests.

Edgefest presents world-class cutting-edge jazz, creative improvisation, and category-defying music often ignored in the commercial marketplace. Artists/composers who participate in Edgefest and its various outreach activities increase the public’s appreciation for and understanding of this musical genre as well as promote their own unique compositions.

Edgefest creates a community spirit that brings together artists, audiences, and the neighborhood in a shared experience; not merely paying lip-service to the idea of local engagement, but making it the lifeblood of the festival with in-depth school workshops and an improvised music parade; offering the next generation fun and accessible introductions to uncompromising creativity.

Diverse audiences from the region and beyond are exposed to this art form, expanding their musical, cultural, and worldviews of art music through a series of free and ticketed public concerts in downtown Ann Arbor with related educational activities. Participating Michigan artists meet and collaborate with international artists, enhancing their own career opportunities.

“The annual rite of fall in Michigan music…running off the beaten tracks.” – Downbeat

Ticketed concerts take place at KCH (115) and in nearby church (400). Concerts are digitally recorded. Two concerts are broadcast live by PR station WCBN.

Events include:

  • 16 ticketed concerts
  • Open Workshop: Pianist/composer Kris Davis works with Community High School jazz students at KCH.
  • Composer/percussionist John Hollenbeck conducts open rehearsals and a performance of his large ensemble compositions. (U-Mich students, community and Edgefest artists participating).
  • John Lindberg interviews Wadada Leo Smith at pre-concert event.
  • Ingrid Laubrock, Jason Kao Hwang and John Hollenbeck perform 5 middle school residency activities in 2 area under-funded schools. KCH has a 10-year relationship with middle school music programs; enhancing the students musical education by introducing improvisation and performance outside of the usual curriculum.
  • 5 free “fringe” concerts in non-traditional venues: Edgefest and area artists collaborate; performing in cafés and record stores in the downtown area. The Fringe includes the Edgefest Parade on Saturday with picnic following; led in 2016 by John Hollenbeck.  See  video interview re 2010 parade.
  • 1 art exhibit inspired by the Edgefest theme. A graphic from the art work will be used in all PR material.

At KCH, one cannot avoid “meeting the composer”! One is never more than 8 rows from composer/performers as they speak/perform. Post-receptions encourage more interaction.

KCH is in its 31st season as presenter. Edgefest has received many awards including the ASCAP/CMA award for adventurous programming. Funding from NEA (8 years) and Chamber Music America, along with contributions from individuals and support from NEW MUSIC USA make possible the continued success and vitality of this unique festival.

Project Media

Ingrid Laubrock Sextet at Vision Festival 20, Pt 1
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Features: Ingrid Laubrock

Artists: Ingrid Laubrock, tenor sax; Craig Taborn, piano; Miya Masaoka, koto; Dan Peck, tuba; Tyshawn Sorey, drums; Sam Pluta, electronics | Date Recorded: 2015 | The 2015 Downbeat Annual Critics Poll lists Laubrock as #1 in the Rising Star category for soprano and #4 for tenor saxophone. The new sextet featured here will record her new compositions in May and release the CD on INTAKT Records in October 2016.

“Ashes, Essence” from Jason Kao Hwang’s “Burning Bridge”
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Features: Jason Hwang

Jason Kao Hwang, violin; Taylor Ho Bynum, cornet/flugelhorn; Joseph Daley, tuba; Andrew Drury, drums; Ken Filiano, string bass; Sun Li, pipa; Steve Swell, trombone; Wang Guowei, erhu | Date Recorded: 2012 | Commissioned by Chamber Music America, Hwang’s work of cross-cultural jazz improvisations by an octet of Chinese and Western instruments was chosen as one of the top CDs of 2012 by numerous publications, including Jazziz and the Jazz Times, and featured on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air.

Kris Davis Trio – Live at Klaviersalon MERTA, Linz, Austria
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Features: Kris Davis

Artists: Kris Davis, piano; John Hébert, bass; Tom Rainey, drums | Date Recorded: 2015 | Recipient of a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award, Kris Davis is known for her ability to interweave jazz standards with equally experimental improvisations.

Start and End Dates



Ann Arbor, Michigan

Project Created By

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Mission Statement: Kerrytown Concert House exists to support the artistic community; artists, music teachers, audience members. “Kerrytown has filled an important niche in Ann Arbor’s musical culture . . . the House has proved so invaluable that one wonders how Ann Arbor ever survived without it…a musical Mecca…” – Ann Arbor News Founded in June 1984…

In Collaboration With

Composer and Performer
Composer and Performer
Composer and Performer
Morris Plains, New Jersey
Composer and Performer
New York, New York
Composer and Performer
Binghamton, New York


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