Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz kicks off this weekend - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz kicks off this weekend

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The 25th annual Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz kicks off on Friday. (WFSB) The 25th annual Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz kicks off on Friday. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The 25th year of the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz kicks off on Friday.

The festival that runs through the weekend celebrates the legacy of jazz in the capital city.

Eyewitness News found some kids that heard live jazz for the first time at the festival and are now playing a role in making it happen.

Setup for the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz began early Friday morning at the Bushnell Park. Festival organizers were getting ready to host a dozen jazz acts this weekend.

"As a kid, coming every year, I would see so many people supporting this music,” drummer Jonathan Barber said.

This year, Barber will be one of them. He'll be playing with the Hartford Legacy Jazz Orchestra on Sunday.

Barber grew up in Windsor and remembers his dad, who was also a drummer, bringing him to the festival at just 10 or 11 years old.

"It definitely was motivation for me to continue to sharpen my craft and hopefully one day perform on this stage,” Barber said.  

Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz has grown to be the largest free jazz event in New England. The event has brought in more than 70,000 people during the three-day festival last year.

"It's to gather and enjoy what your city has to offer,” Tiana Korrea, who is an organizer with the Hartford Jazz Festival, said.

Korrea grew up coming to the festival with her dad and said the community spirit and variety of what you can find is what makes it so great.

"For 25 years, we wanted to make sure we have a mesh of people and make sure the community can relate to some artists,” Korrea said. “But even be able to relate to people they hear on the radio and be able to see them live and up close and personal."

This year's festival is dedicated to the late Paul Brown, who brought jazz to the park with the Monday night concerts so many years ago, and the late Jackie McLean, who is the founder of the Hartford Artists Collective.

The Hartford Artists Collective is where Barber and many other artists performing this weekend learned to hone their craft.  

"I’m definitely humbled and excited,” Barber said.   

As for sitting, the lawn in front of the State Capitol will fill up quickly, the gates are open right now and that first act begins at 7 p.m.  

The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz runs entirely on donations.

If you want some information on how you can help keep the music going and the full schedule of acts for this weekend's festival, click here.  

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