Downtown Belleville gears up for the Jazz Festival’s first Labor Day weekend

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The legendary sounds of jazz bands from New Orleans, New York and Havana come to Belleville this Labor Day weekend when the downtown district hosts its first jazz festival September 2-4 .

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Jazz festival organizer Howard Rees – a Toronto-born, New York-trained jazz pianist with deep ties to the Bay of Quinte – contacted the City of Belleville, Bay of Quinte Tourism, the Quinte Arts Council and the Belleville BIA who enthusiastically embraced his vision.

Based on his previous success leading festivals in Toronto’s Distillery District and a vocal jazz collaboration with Hastings Prince Edward School Board in 2019, Rees felt the time was right.

Rees has sponsorship deals with Karlo Estates, Wellington, Lakeland Multi-Trade, Cobourg and Bay Mazda, Belleville, to support the festival. He partnered with Long & McQuade to provide musical equipment.

During the event, part of Front Street will be transformed into a pedestrian walkway with a variety of musicians playing ‘outdoors’.

Other performers will grace the Bernice Parrott Stage behind City Hall, the Belleville Club and the Parrott Gallery upstairs at the Belleville Public Library. Additionally, several downtown restaurants, including Capers and Dinkels, will offer live jazz performances during their dinner hours.

Dinkel’s Restaurant kicks off the jazz festivities early on Saturday, July 23 with performances by Hannah Burgé Duo with Hannah Burgé Luviano (vocals) and Michael Monis (guitar) Live at Dinkel’s Restaurant. From The Whole Note – by Andrew Timar Toronto singer Hannah Burgé’s debut album, Green River Sessions, finds its heart in the international jazz currents of the mid to late 20th century,

Something of a soft launch for the jazz festival took place on June 16 at the Belleville Club when festival organizer Rees hosted a public festival launch complete with artist announcements, appetizers, wine tastings and an auction for a gold medal for ten people. Award winning wine tasting experience at Karlo Estates.

Entertainment was provided by the Howard Rees Trio: Howard on piano, Paco Luviano on double bass and Harry Ellis on drums, with appearances from other festival artists.

For more details, visit downtown belleville.ca.

Ada J. Kenney