The 8th annual Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival – Boston’s most popular and largest outdoor festival – will transform the Hub into a musical, multi-cultural Mecca for jazz, world, blues, and grooves, September 25 – 27, with concerts at various locations around the city. World-renowned superstars and treasured local artists come together on four stages in free and ticketed offerings that last year drew upwards of 70,000 people of all ages from every neighborhood in Boston and all over New England.

More than 17 bands and 120 musicians will perform at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), Cafe 939, and outdoor stages along Columbus Avenue. The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival is sponsored by Sovereign Bank, Target, and Dunkin’ Donuts. For a complete list of all events, venues, and performers, visit beantownjazz.org.

Kicking things off on Thursday, September 25 at Cafe 939 will be a special warm-up concert featuring artists from Berklee’s student-run Jazz Revelation Records – Manami Morita, Evgengy Lebdev, and Hyunwoo Han. Free CDs and food will be provided. Tickets are $10 and available at the door only (no pre-sale).

The festivities continue with an all-star drum summit Friday, September 26, featuring two of the most explosive drummers in contemporary music, Berklee alumna Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz, Pharoah Sanders) and Terri Lyne Carrington (Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie). Each will showcase their own ensembles as well as special guest pianists Geri Allen and Patrice Rushen, faculty guitarist David Gilmore, and Tineke Postma, a brilliant young saxophonist from Holland. The concert takes place at 8:15 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets are $40 and $30 and available at the BPC box office, through Ticketmaster 617 931-2000, and at ticketmaster.com. Call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information.

On Saturday, September 27, the free Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival will take place from noon to 6:00 p.m. on three stages over six blocks on Columbus Avenue, starting at Massachusetts Avenue, with a shimmering array of talent.

Full 2008 Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival lineup follows:

Gold Sounds, with James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Reginald Veal, and Ali Jackson performing Pavement covers
Javon Jackson with Les McCann
Kurt Elling
Walter Beasley
Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Trio
Russell Malone Quartet
Ralph Peterson
Rebecca Cline
Bloco AfroBrazil
Berklee City Music All-Star Ensemble
Andre Ward
Fernando Brandao
Hey Rim Jeon and Friends featuring Laura Brunner
Danny Morris
Darcel Wilson

Also at the Columbus Avenue festival site will be an expanded Target Family Park, returning with many fun activities for the kids, including inflatables, photos, face painting, temporary tattoos, and an instrument petting zoo. More than 60 vendor booths will offer arts, crafts, accessories and great food representing a variety of countries.

«Producing the BeanTown Jazz Festival feels like Berklee is throwing a big party for Boston,» says Larry Simpson, Berklee senior vice president for academic affairs and BeanTown Jazz Festival executive director. «And our party has all of the essential ingredients for a memorable time: stunning live music that will make you move, a diverse mix of engaging people, a variety of delicious foods, and plenty to keep the kids entertained.»

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