Celebrity Series of Boston Announces:‘ Jazz Along the Charles’

Celebrity Series of Boston opens the 2023/24 performance season with the highly anticipated return of Jazz Along the Charles—a free jazz event open to all, featuring 25 local jazz ensembles, along the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Charles River Esplanade. With lead sponsors the Esplanade Association and the Richard K. Lubin Family Foundation, Jazz Along the Charles takes place on Saturday, October 7 (rain or shine). Attendees can experience the event at their own pace, in their own way, along the Charles River; discovering new songs, artists, and areas of the Esplanade, creating a dynamic and evolving jazz concert experience.

Performances will be staged in a 1.5 mile loop from Community Boating Inc. along the Dr. Paul Dudley White Shared Use Path to the Esplanade paths around the Storrow Lagoon, past Fiedler Field and back along the Charles River.

The ensembles, comprised of 100 local musicians, will interpret a Boston-inspired set list of music composed (or popularized) by women, co-curated by composers and artists Ken Field and Zahili Zamora. With songs such as Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” Esperanza Spalding’s “I Know You Know,” Nnenna Freelon’s “Circle Song,” and “Last Dance” popularized by Donna Summer, this uplifting afternoon showcases the vibrancy of Boston’s jazz scene. While each band is unique and will interpret the songs in their own individual styles, together they will create one collective event that celebrates the improvisational and expressive essence of jazz and the thriving jazz community in Greater Boston today.

Grammy award-winning drummer, producer, and educator Terri Lyne Carrington has been commissioned by Celebrity Series to write a new work for Jazz Along the Charles. Her piece, “Bay Warriors,” opens the event. The piece recognizes the warrior spirit of the region—from the Indigenous peoples who battled the first settlers, to the ongoing resiliency the city and state have displayed in troubling times.

Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director of the Celebrity Series of Boston, says, “We are thrilled to bring back Jazz Along the Charles to Boston. Since we first presented the event in 2018, audiences and artists have been eagerly anticipating its return, and can do so with the support and partnership of our colleagues at the Esplanade Association and the Richard K. Lubin Family Foundation. Co-curators Zahili Zamora and Ken Field deserve much praise for compiling a remarkable showcase of pieces by women composers and artists from Boston. Opening our event, we take immense pride in the world premiere of a new jazz standard by Boston’s own Terri Lyne Carrington.” 

Co-curator Zahili Zamora says, “I am truly honored to have this beautiful opportunity to work alongside Ken Field and the amazing team at Celebrity Series to co-curate Jazz Along the Charles. I participated as a musician in the event in 2018, and was so inspired by the high caliber of artists that participated. Since then, I’ve performed in several Celebrity Series concerts and was thrilled when I was asked to join the project again in a larger leadership capacity. Organizations like Celebrity Series are working hard to change the course of history by amplifying the music of women jazz artists. It is rewarding to see the jazz community elevating and including the works of outstanding female musicians, composers, and arrangers. Jazz Along the Charles is a great opportunity to hear new music, to inform ourselves, to widen our Boston jazz community by showcasing local artists, and to bring more diversity throughout this process. Needless to say, the Charles River is the best location for it all!”

Ken Field, co-curator, adds, “I am very pleased to join the Jazz Along the Charles creative team again after serving as the curator for the 2018 event. Zahili and I agreed that for 2023, focusing on music composed or popularized by women with relationships to Boston would be the most impactful artistic choice. There’s so much rich music created by women to share, and this decision was influenced by the need to improve gender representation in the jazz industry. Jazz was born in the African American community, and the flexibility and stylistic range of the chosen ensembles represent the diversity of Boston residents and our music community. There’s something special that happens at Jazz Along the Charles, when the performers and audience are on the same level that creates an intimate and vibrant atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to hearing what the 25 ensembles do with this material.”

Jen Mergel, the James & Audrey Foster Executive Director of the Esplanade Association, noted the significance of the 2023 event, saying, “We are thrilled to support Jazz Along the Charles, not only as a lead sponsor, but as a community partner who firmly believes our shared park spaces are vital platforms for cultural expression and connection. Even the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who designed the earliest parts of the Esplanade, shared in his 1886 plan for Boston’s parks how the “chief purpose of a park” is an effect “like that of music… that cannot be fully given the form of words.” Our team is thrilled to work with Celebrity Series to welcome this event back to the Esplanade this October. This unforgettable experience of femme-forward programming and local talent will be an absolute gift to Greater Boston.”   

Jazz Along the Charles is a free public event, produced in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Media partner is WBUR. Jazz Along the Charles is part of Celebrity Series’ commitment to share the joy of live performance with all of Boston. Previous Celebrity Series projects have included Street Pianos Boston, Le Grand Continental, Concert for One, and Let’s Dance Boston.

Our Sensory-Inclusive Environment

Celebrity Series is taking many steps to ensure this event is welcoming to all and sensory-inclusive. Bands are lightly amplified, and there will be space to move toward or away from artists as guests’ comfort level permits. Details about sensory- and autism-friendly resources will be available on the event page in September.

Calendar Listing Information

Celebrity Series of Boston Presents “Jazz Along the Charles”

Saturday, Oct. 7, 2-4 p.m.

DCR Charles River Esplanade

Free and open to the public

More info: celebrityseries.org/jatc

Celebrity Series of Boston presents the much-anticipated return of Jazz Along the Charles with the Esplanade Association and the Richard K. Lubin Family Foundation as lead sponsors. More than 100 local musicians, in 25 jazz ensembles, will perform–in their own style–set lists of Boston-inspired music composed by women. A new world premiere commission by Grammy award-winner Terri Lyne Carrington titled “Bay Warriors” will open the event. Onlookers can experience the event however they choose: linger with one band to hear their interpretation of each tune or make their way along a loop to sample the diversity of our city’s jazz scene. Ken Field and Zahili Zamora are co-curators of this free public event on Saturday, October 7 from 2-4pm at the DCR Charles River Esplanade, Boston. Rain or shine. Food and merchandise will be available for purchase.

Celebrity Series of Boston was founded in 1938 by pianist and impresario Aaron Richmond. Celebrity Series has been bringing the very best performers—from orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, and more—to Boston’s major concert halls for 85 years. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experiences, transform lives, and build better communities. Through its education initiatives, the Celebrity Series seeks to build a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience—on stages, on streets, in neighborhoods—everywhere.

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