With Make Music Madison (Friday, multiple venues), Solskinn (Friday, Elvehjem Park) and the Madison Area Music Awards (Sunday, Overture Center), this weekend is a flurry of tuneful activities. The Isthmus Jazz Festival on the Terrace at the UW Memorial Union is probably the most relaxing option. Most of it is outside, swathed in Lake Mendota breezes and the brat stand's tantalizing aromas.
Better yet, the two-day event is free, including headliner Carmen Lundy's performance at UW Mills Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. This show is bit more formal, but at the Terrace, you can come and go as you please. In case of rain, the whole shebang moves into the Union Rathskeller.
Here's a sneak peek at the fest's performances on June 21 and 22.
Friday, June 21
High School Jazz All-Stars with Anthony Wonsey
Though some of the group's members aren't old enough to operate a vehicle, they sure know how to jump-start an evening. Anthony Wonsey, headliner Carmen Lundy's pianist, will join the young players in an adventurous set.
Carmen Lundy Outreach Choir
Lundy arrived in Madison several days before the fest to host workshops for area musicians. Co-led by local performers Leotha and Tamera Stanley, Lundy's All-Star Jazz and Gospel Festival Choir workshop has been polishing an arrangement of her original composition "Better Days." Hear the group perform it during a brief set.
The faculty sextet from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music recently added Grammy-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch to their roster. Their style is straight-ahead, and they can swing with the best of 'em.
This large repertory ensemble dives deep into the catalogs of Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich, among others.
Saturday, June 22
Watch students from several local programs flex their musical muscles in a program that will show what the next generation of jazz stars sounds like.
Get Down, Mr. Cat! with Michelle DuVall
There's a reason the UW School of Music calls this group its "big band." These musicians make a mighty sound whether they're playing big-band-style tunes or material that's a bit more contemporary. For the fest, their special guest is the accomplished San Francisco bassist Marcus Shelby.
Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Building, 8 p.m.
Castañeda is a whirlwind of percussive activity, hopping from congas to bongos and beyond. His sextet typically plays classics that beg the crowd to dance.
This cool Windy City ensemble "maintains a vibrant spirit [of] 1960s hip," according to Chicago Jazz Magazine. Their fresh grooves have also earned a Grammy nomination.
Isthmus Jazz Personality of the Year
The 2013 Isthmus Jazz Personality of the Year is Rand Moore, the skillful drummer, educator and music-store owner. He'll be honored before Carmen Lundy's concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in Mills Hall of the UW Humanities Building.
Isthmus Jazz Fest on the Terrace, June 21-22
All sets are at the UW Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St., except headliner Carmen Lundy's performance at Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. All shows are free; seating is general admission for Lundy's concert. Rain location for Terrace events is the Memorial Union Rathskeller. Due to nearby construction, parking in the Lake Street ramp or Campus Lot 7 is recommended.
The Isthmus Jazz Festival is presented by Isthmus, WUD Performing Arts Committee and the Union Theater, with support from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Wisconsin Union Theater Endowment Fund and the Wisconsin Union Directorate. Carmen Lundy is presented in partnership with the Madison Music Collective, with support from Dane Arts, John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Ward-Brodt Music, Janus Galleries, UPS Store-Fitchburg, Capital City Hues and UMOJA.