Saturday, August 5 &
Sunday, August 6, 2017
@ Goshen Fairgrounds
Tickets: from $37 - $69 advance

Two Top Performers Give Artist Talks at Litchfield Jazz Fest
Saturday, August 5 (6:30) & 6 (3:30)
Goshen Fairgrounds
116 Old Middle Road, Goshen, CT
Ever wonder what goes into learning an instrument, composing the music, or choosing to become a professional player? Each summer, Litchfield Jazz Festival offers audience members the chance to meet festival stars up close to hear their personal stories and learn what shaped their lives in music.

Photos Steven Sussman

The Festival’s Artist Talks are led by Frank Alkyer, Publisher of Down Beat Magazine, the world’s largest-distribution jazz magazine. DownBeat is a long- time sponsor of Litchfield Jazz Festival and Frank a well-informed, personable and witty interviewer. The talks take place in the intimate Student Stage Tent, and ticketholders are invited free of charge.

This year’s guest artists are clarinetist Ken Peplowski and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Ken headlines the Saturday August 5th lineup with his Benny Goodman Tribute, featuring Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, Joe Locke, vibes, Nicki Parrott, bass, Euhud Aherie, piano, and Matt Wilson, drums.  His Artist Talk is scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 immediately before his set at 7:45.

The festival’s founder Vita Muir first met Ken on The Jazz Cruise, a popular straight-ahead music voyage in which he plays a key role when he is not touring the world. Muir applauds Ken’s teaching philosophy “My goal,” he says, is to get students to learn how to teach themselves and to learn how to bring out their own best qualities. After all, jazz is about individuality---first you learn the rules, and then you break them. I would like to think of myself as a lifelong student!”

On Sunday afternoon at 3:30 Frank Alkyer will be talking with Rudresh Mahanthappa. Rudresh is appearing on the fest at 4:45 with his Indo-Pac Coalition. A renowned saxophonist/composer and second-generation Tamil-American, his music blends progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid, forward-looking form. He has won many awards and polls, including the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and numerous first places for alto sax performance from Down Beat and the Jazz Journalists. He was appointed last year as the first Director of Jazz at Princeton University.

Litchfield Jazz Festival is sponsored in part by DownBeat Magazine, National Endowment for the Arts, Les Paul Foundation, NEFA, Republican American, Crystal Rock, Steinway, Telefunken, and the Wyndham Southbury. For a full list of sponsors, please visit For information about Litchfield Jazz Festival and its programs, for tickets, volunteering, sponsoring, exhibiting or advertising, call 860-361-6285.

22nd Litchfield Jazz Festival
"Discovering Genius"
Saturday, August 5 &
Sunday, August 6, 2017
@ Goshen Fairgrounds
Litchfield Jazz Festival is making its 22nd appearance August 5 & 6 at Goshen Fairgrounds.  The theme this year is Discovering Genius, and the program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The concept is to add to the familiar stars on the roster extraordinarily talented young musicians you are far less known and give audiences the chance to discover something new and wonderful.

Vita Muir, the founder and creative director of Litchfield Jazz has a passion for introducing new talent and helping to jump start careers. She was the first festival presenter in the U.S. to invite the now mega-star Diana Krall to appear at the very first Litchfield Jazz Festival in 1996.

“People ask me all the time,” she told one interviewer, “Where do you find these artists?” She says she usually answers, “ The real question is what do I do with all the artists I find? Applicants know we have little time for chitchat so most send CDs. I look at them all and decide which look like a fit for the Litchfield Festival and might be worth listening time.  I would love to hear all the CDs I get straight through but there is never enough time. “

Litchfield Jazz runs a large music education program, Litchfield Jazz Camp at Canterbury School in New Milford and recruiting and dealing with 350 families annually and raising money to provide need-based scholarships for up to 25% of them takes much of the staff’s time and energy.

So, Muir says, she has a homegrown system for CD-based selection (she almost always hears people live next).  “I place a pile of my top pick on the desk to the right of my computer screen and they stay there, nagging me, making me feel guilty, until I listen. Occasionally she  takes a few home.  

“One Sunday morning” she says “I played a CD pulled off the pile after it stared at me for months.  Pretty title, “George Sunset.”  Cute looking young pianist.  I played it. And then I played it again. And again.  I played that thing five times, looked up the pianist’s phone number and dialed. “

The musician who answered was Joe Alterman, a fresh-out of NYU kid with the soul of an old swinger. This young man was no dummy. His record was produced by the well renowned saxophonist  and a mentor to Alterman, Houston Person. This choice added name recognition which often encourages  jazz radio hosts to play unknown artists. Many of the tunes were Joe’s own— the title tune Georgia Sunset is so engaging , she said, you have no desire to skip it or other originals  to get to old favorites Moonlight Becomes You  and This Time the Dream’s On Me.

Joe Alterman ~ photo by Fran Kaufman

Muir says she literally wore out that CD. So she bought a new one and hired Joe Alterman for the 2017 Litchfield Jazz Festival two years in advance (she had already booked 2016).  Two years, it turned out, was not enough time to book Person, so she paired Joe with festival favorites Matt Wilson on drums and Avery Sharpe on bass.  Matt is one of the most in demand drummers in jazz, and Avery, with 20 years with McCoy Tyner under his belt has the same reputation on bass.  

Muir said she picked the sidemen in part because she figured they could teach young Joe a thing or two. Maybe Joe can return the favor. Ramsey Lewis said of Joe (he’s) “ he is so much younger than I and still an inspiration to me!.. His ability to swing is something to behold. God bless him.”  

Muir says she thinks it would be “sweet” down the road to hear the Joe Alterman Trio with Matt Wilson and Avery Sharpe at New York clubs like Dizzy’s or the Jazz Standard and listeners could say, “Why I saw Joe at Litchfield back in 2017!!”

Vocalist Michael Mayo
to Debut at Litchfield Jazz Festival
“It’s an ongoing challenge to find great male jazz singers,” says Vita Muir, Founder and Director of Litchfield Jazz Festival. She admits to being picky on the subject to the point of obsession.   “When Frank Sinatra of the perfect phrasing, diction, pitch and timbre is the standard,” she remarks “how many can measure up?” And then, she found Michael Mayo, and hired him to be the featured singer for “Discovering Genius”, 22nd edition of the Festival at Goshen Fairgrounds on August 5.

Michael Mayo fell into her lap at the recommendation of pianist Carmen Staaf. Carmen was a member of the most recent Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Ensemble, a quintet competitively chosen for a 2-year Master’s program by the Monk Institute. Michael was a member of that band, and they got to play 3 hours a day coached by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Herb Alpert, Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Heath.

Michael Mayo ~ photo contributed

Mayo sent Muir a video and she says she discovered a voice nature only bestows on a precious few— pitch perfect, moving.  She said, “He sent me an a cappella clip.  Brave. There’s no place to hide.”

She hired him on the spot for his American festival debut.

Michael was recently featured on American Voices, a PBS Great Performances special hosted by Renée Fleming. This show grew out of Kennedy Center’s 2013 American Voices Festival for which Mayo was selected (one of 4 vocalists) to work with star vocalist Dianne Reeves. The next day, he was asked to sub for an indisposed Kurt Elling!

The son of professional musicians the 22-year-old Los Angeles native turned New Yorker has performed live with Usher and others. He has recorded with Michael Jackson and on the soundtracks of Hairspray: The Movie, High School Musical 3, and The Polar Express. On TV he has appeared in Home for the Holidays, VH-1 Awards, and An Evening of Stars: A Tribute to Quincy Jones.

His Litchfield set at 1:45 will feature a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald on the 100th anniversary of her birth, standards and some of Michael’s own tunes.  For tickets visit  For info call 860-361-6285.

Litchfield Jazz Festival is supported in part by The state of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, DownBeat Magazine, The Republican-American, Crystal Rock, Steinway & Sons and The Wyndham Southbury. For a full list of sponsors please visit

Discovering Genius
Pianist Brandon Goldberg
Brandon Goldberg
Over two decades, Litchfield Jazz Camp has had its share of precocious students. Quite a few of them, actually.  Most fall into a category the Camp’s and Litchfield Jazz Festival’s founder/director Vita Muir likes to call “my little old men.”  They are atypically young students (the official lower age limit for the Camp is 12), with high intelligence and talent and great communication skills. Some are prodigies; just a few are straight-up geniuses.

Two such students from the past several years have won the Downbeat Student Music Awards, pianist/composer Estaban Castro, who came to LJC at 9, and tenor saxophonist Ian Munoz who has attended since 2015 when he was 13. Ian won a Camp scholarship through a competition sponsored by a partnership between Litchfield and Miami Public Radio Station WDNA.  

This year the Litchfield youth spotlight will fall on Brandon Goldberg.  Brandon attended the Camp in 2016 at age 10.  This year his camp experience will be topped off with a guest spot on Litchfield Jazz Festival.  He is the only child ever to perform on the Litchfield mainstage. Brandon Goldberg plays on August 6 in the opening set at 12:30 as a special guest of the Litchfield Jazz Orchestra under the baton of pianist/arranger Jen Allen.  

Brandon is not only an extraordinary musician, he is a remarkably wise and articulate boy. This is a boy who went to the piano at age three and watched his fingers play melodies he did not know he could. He loves performing and does it wonderfully well. Check him out on You Tube with Monty Alexander at Jazz At Lincoln Center, with Steve Harvey on NBC’s Little Bigshots, and most recently on the Harry Connick, Jr program. Last but not least, watch Brandon give a TED talk!

Brandon’s growth and development will be followed closely by many jazz fans with great pleasure.  For Tickets to see Brandon Goldberg and the other top performers at the 22nd annual Litchfield Jazz Festival at Goshen Fairgrounds on August 5 and 6, visit or call 860-361-6285.

Litchfield Jazz Camp
Litchfield Jazz Camp launches its 21st season July 9th at Canterbury School in New Milford, CT.  Places are still available for students 12 to adult.  Some instruments are now over-scubscribed but most can still be accommodated. The program accepts instrumentalist and vocalists as day or boarding students. Students can opt to attend for one or more weekly session through August 4. The program gives all campers performance opportunities, including appearances on their own stage at Litchfield Jazz Festival, August 5 & 6 at Goshen Fairgrounds.

Photo Credit – Dale Rothenberg

Forty-five of the finest jazz musician-educators working today serve on the faculty.  The Music Director is saxophonist/educator/composer Don Braden. Other teaching staff include bassist Avery Sharpe (of McCoy Tyner Trio fame), multi Grammy winning baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, Luques Curtis, himself a graduate of Litchfield Jazz Camp, and bassist for the Eddie Palmieri Band, famed drummers Steve Johns, Matt Wilson and George Schuller, the 2017 winner of the Jazz Journalist’s Award, baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, and many more. For a full faculty list visit

Litchfield Jazz Camp is presented by the non-profit Litchfield Performing Arts, Inc.  Support is made possible as of this writing by its members and DownBeat Magazine, Crystal Rock, Les Paul Foundation, Torrington Savings Bank, RS Berkeley, Vandoren, Republican American, Connecticut Community Foundation... Students may enroll at or by calling 860-361-6285.  Acceptance is non-competitive.

Jazz After Work
free summer jazz concerts
sponsored by Litchfield Jazz Festival
@ Litchfield Jazz Camp in New Milford
Beginning July 10 ~ 7:15 p.m.
Monday through Thursday nights
for the full four weeks of the camp’s run
Jazz After Work, a series of free summer jazz concerts sponsored by Litchfield Jazz Festival, returns to Litchfield Jazz Camp in New Milford.  Beginning July 10, the Camp’s all-star faculty performs Monday through Thursday nights for the full four weeks of the camp’s run. Student camper concerts happen every Friday evening and the public is invited to these as well.  Concerts are held at Canterbury School’s Maguire Auditorium, 101 Aspetuck Road, beginning at 7:15 p.m. nightly.

Heading up the faculty and starring weekly on concerts is camp Music Director Don Braden.  A saxophonist and flutist, Braden is an internationally known performer and educator who has been a sideman with jazz greats Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, and others. Camp faculty performers this summer include this year’s Jazz Journalist Award Winner for baritone sax, Claire Daly, and saxophonists Jeff Lederer, Jimmy Greene, Kris Allen, Caroline Davis; trumpeters Jean Caze, Nick Roseboro, Claudio Roditi; and vocalist Nicole Zuraitis.  Others include pianists Zaccai Curtis (Chamber Music America New Jazz Works, 2017), Carmen Staaf (Monk Institute), Orrin Evans; guitarists Dave Stryker, Paul Bollenback, and Doug Munro; drummers Matt Wilson, Steve Johns, George Schuller; bassists Luques Curtis, Mario Pavone, Avery Sharpe, and many more.

A full list of Jazz After Work concerts will

Litchfield Jazz Camp culminates in the 22nd appearance of the Litchfield Jazz Festival, August 5 and 6 at Goshen Fairgrounds. Featured artists include John Pizzarelli,  Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pac Coalition, Ada Rovatti, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ken Peplowski, Joe Locke, and many more, and tributes to the music of Sinatra, Jobim, and Benny Goodman.

In keeping with its 2017 theme, Discovering Genius, the festival introduces vocalist Michael Mayo, another Monk winner, pianist Joe Alterman, and the 11-year-old pianist, a young man who has already appeared at Lincoln Center, the Blue Note, and the Harry Connick Jr. show, from Miami, Brandon Goldberg.

For tickets visit LJF2017.  
For a human, call 860-361-6285.

Litchfield Jazz Camp KIDS
Litchfield Jazz Camp, the award winning educational arm of the renowned Litchfield Jazz Festival has been turning out the jazz stars of today for the past 20 years. It now announces a new program exclusively for younger students—Litchfield Jazz Camp KIDS. The KIDS program is tailored to ages 8 to 11, with or without prior playing experience. It is one-week musical journey that is fun and instructive and a top quality experience for children of all learning styles.

This new program lets the child explore the world of instruments and voice across all kinds of music from world music to jazz to blues and more. Jazz Camp Kids is held at Canterbury School in New Milford and welcomes day students and can provide boarding for those who live at a distance. Tasty, nutritious meals are included for all campers.

The Camp takes a relaxed approach to music instruction by professional musician/educators, headed up by an expert in childhood learning. Students are taught in small groups and learn the basic of rhythm and notes, melody, harmony and sight reading.  

Kids with instrumental experience are encouraged to bring their own instruments and may explore others. Instruments for beginners are provided. Those interested in voice will get the chance to sing in groups and with instrumentalists.  A student concert will close the session on July 14. All campers are invited to perform on the student stage at the Litchfield Jazz Festival on August 5th at Goshen Fairgrounds.

The camp day ends at 3PM with afternoon PE activities.  Supervised day care can be provided for day students whose parents’ work schedules do not permit early pickup.

Day student fee, including meals, is $400.  Boarding student fee is $800. Scholarships based on need are available thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation. For information and registration call Litchfield Performing Arts at 860-361-6285.