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Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience to Headline Free Outdoor Music Festival at Kean

The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience

The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience

Kean University and internationally-acclaimed bassist/producer Mike Griot next month will present the inaugural Jazz & Roots Music Festival, a free outdoor music event open to the public on The Lawn at Enlow Hall in Hillside.

Rap and hip-hop artist JSWISS
Rap and hip-hop artist JSWISS

Performing at the music festival are pianist/composer Nat Adderley Jr.; rap and hip-hop artist JSWISS, featuring Casey Benjamin and Mark Whitfield; the jazz group Dave Stryker Quartet; and the evening’s headliner — the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience. 

The festival will be held Saturday, October 16 from 4:30 - 8 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, October 17 from 4:30 - 8 p.m.

The music festival is part of a weeklong Homecoming celebration at Kean University, which includes the installation of President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., who became Kean’s 18th leader in the summer of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I can think of no better time to celebrate with everyone at Kean and our neighboring communities than Homecoming Week,” Repollet said. “I always tell our students and alumni that they are part of the Kean family. This music festival will welcome so many others into our family and underscore Kean’s important role as a cultural hub in the region.” 

Nat Adderly Jr. will take the stage at 4:30 p.m., followed by JSWISS, featuring Casey Benjamin & Mark Whitfield at 5:15 p.m., the Dave Stryker Quartet at 6 p.m. and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience at 7 p.m.

Food trucks will be on hand, but attendees may also pack a picnic supper and bring chairs or a blanket to enjoy the music under the stars. 

Nat Adderley Jr. is best known for his work with Luther Vandross. He wrote and arranged Vandross’ first top 20 pop hit, Stop to Love, as well as the Grammy-nominated Give Me the Reason and others. He has worked with Beyoncé, Natalie Cole and other celebrated artists. Fans have described his music as lyrical, smooth and lightly swingin'. 

JSWISS brings his rap “awthenticity” — his term for being authentic and awe-inspiring — to the stage with inspiring messages, sharp wordplay, and an energy that moves the crowd. His infectious music combines lyrical prowess and adept flow. He has performed at the legendary Apollo Theater, Blue Note Jazz Club and more, and was the first hip-hop artist to perform at the New York Botanical Gardens. 

Musician Dave Stryker with a guitar
Guitarist Dave Stryker

The Village Voice calls Dave Stryker “one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.” His latest CD, Baker’s Circle, was in the Top 10 for 21 weeks on the JazzWeek Radio Chart. The Dave Stryker Quartet performs original music and their own intricate and nuanced interpretations of jazz and R&B classics.

The evening culminates with headliner Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience, an ensemble led by Dizzy Gillespie’s long-term bassist John Lee. The band performs songs made famous by the legendary trumpeter as well as a global Afro-Latin repertoire. With energy, style and driving rhythms, the band puts its own stamp on a well-known genre. 

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