Woodstock Jazz Festival returns for 12th year Aug. 23-24

  • The John Wojciechowski Quartet will be one of the headliners at this year's Woodstock Jazz Festival Aug. 23-24.

    The John Wojciechowski Quartet will be one of the headliners at this year's Woodstock Jazz Festival Aug. 23-24. Courtesy of John Wojciechowski

  • The Paul Abella Trio will perform on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Stage Left Café.

    The Paul Abella Trio will perform on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Stage Left Café. Courtesy of Paul Abella Trio

  • The Tito Carrillo Sextet will be the headliners on the opening night of the Woodstock Jazz Festival on Friday, Aug. 23, at Stage Left Café.

    The Tito Carrillo Sextet will be the headliners on the opening night of the Woodstock Jazz Festival on Friday, Aug. 23, at Stage Left Café. Courtesy of Tito Carrillo Sextet

Submitted by Jazz on the Square
Posted8/22/2019 12:53 AM

The Tito Carrillo Sextet and the John Wojciechowski Quartet are headlining this year's Woodstock Jazz Festival.

Sponsored by Jazz on the Square, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting jazz education and live jazz performances in McHenry and its neighboring counties, two days of live jazz will be filling the Woodstock Square and Stage Left Café on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24.


While the Saturday morning and afternoon programming are free, visit the Jazz on the Square website at www.jazzonthesquare.com/festival-2019 to order tickets for the Friday night and Saturday night performances.

The 2019 Jazz on the Square Woodstock Jazz Festival will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday. Stage Left Café will feature performances by the Johnny Weber Trio, the NIA Quintet with Scott Anderson, and the Tito Carrillo Sextet.

The Johnny Weber Trio is led by Johnny Weber, a local McHenry County legend on the drums who plays all the local venues. He is a founding member of the Friday Night Jazz on the Square Jazz Jam Session House Band.

Scott Anderson's NIA Quintet has been described by Glenn Astarita a writer for Downbeat magazine as, " ... it's almost a rarity these days to hear a new jazz ensemble differentiate itself from the pack. The quintet's forthright mission of execution, substantiated by unwavering commitment, delivers the winning edge." Harvey Siders indicates, "This group is basically a contemporary, bop-flavored quintet of two horns and three rhythm players. It swings intelligently, sometimes intellectually."

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Friday night's headliner is the Tito Carrillo Sextet that includes: Tito Carrillo on trumpet, Rich Moore on saxophone, Ben Lewis on piano, Katie Ernst, Bass, Xavier Breaker on drums, and Victor Gonzalez on percussion. Tito is a trumpeter, educator, bandleader, composer, and arranger, and since 1996 he has been a fixture in the Chicago jazz and Latin music scenes. Tito, the jazz trumpet professor and Latin Jazz Ensemble director from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was recently seen on PBS's "Great Performances" on WTTW Channel 11. Tito and his ensembles have played across the globe. The list of artists and ensembles he has performed, recorded, and toured with is impressive, including: the late Willie Pickens, Bobby Broom, Kurt Elling, Louis Hayes, Jon Faddis Tito Puente, Quincy Jones, Phil Collins, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Chicago Jazz Orchestra and Smithsonian Masterworks Orchestra with David Baker. He has played some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including Chicago's Symphony Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and London's Royal Albert Hall; and, he has been heard at international jazz festivals in Chicago, Telluride, Montreux (Switzerland), North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague (Netherlands), and Pori, Finland.

Saturday morning the Jazz on the Square Woodstock Jazz Festival will host a free concert on the Square in Woodstock featuring the Rick Embach Trio at 9 a.m., Matthew Muneses Quintet at 10:15 a.m., and the Outcast Jazz Band at 11:30 a.m.

Vibes player Rick Embach brought his incredible talent to the Chicago area after a successful nine-year career in the performance venues and studios of L.A. You have most likely heard Rick Embach's vibes on ads for Kellogg's, Bud Light, and Land's End among others. He can be heard throughout the Chicago area performing on vibes and marimba in the duo and trio ensembles. His bass player, Jim Seidel, plays throughout the Chicago area and is a regular at Jazz on the Square's Friday night Jazz Jams. Drummer Tom Hipskind is currently performing for the Chicago production of "Hamilton."

Matthew Muneses is recognized as an outstanding up-and-coming jazz talent. He has led groups who have respected establishments and music festivals, including the Green Mill (Chicago), Catalina Bar & Grill (Los Angeles), Kranzberg Arts Center (St. Louis), and Andy's Jazz Club (Chicago), as well as the Pygmalion Music Festival (Champaign, Ill.). Roger Farbey writing for All About Jazz has described Matthew as, "An extremely competent saxophonist … with shades of (Ornette) Coleman."


The Outcast Jazz Band will wrap up the Saturday morning free concert. The Outcasts have been around Chicago since its members were in high school. The 18-piece big band has been a staple of the Jazz Festival for years. The Outcasts concentrate on the classic big band sounds of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, but they also throw in a smattering of anyone from Van Morrison to Paul Simon to Ray Charles.

From 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Stage Left Café Jazz on the Square is partnering with P Mauriat Instruments to sponsor a free workshop on "Jazz Improvisation for Musicians of All Ages," presented by Saturday night's headliner John Wojciechoswki. John "Wojo" Wojciechowski is an outstanding Chicago Jazz musician and a highly respected music educator. John is a P. Mauriat Performing Artist. His workshop is designed to help Jazz on the Square's mission of promoting jazz education and live jazz performances throughout McHenry County and Northern Illinois. This workshop is suitable for students of jazz from middle school, high school, college or adult levels and all levels of skill. Students interested in attending this workshop should bring their horns.

The festival concludes at 7 p.m. Saturday at Stage Left Café with three outstanding ensembles -- Nico Vallenas's Chromatic Experiment, the Paul Abella Trio and the John Wojciechowski Quartet.

For the second year in a row, Nico Vallenas's Chromatic Experiment will open the Saturday night set of the festival. Nico Vallenas's Chromatic Experiment represents the outstanding young jazz talent that can be found in McHenry County and its surrounding counties in northern Illinois. Nico, a 2019 graduate of Jacobs High School in Algonquin, and his friends from Jacobs are regulars at the Jazz on the Square Friday Night Jazz Jams at Stage Left Café in Woodstock. He is an outstanding young tenor sax player who has just incredible commitment to learning, technical ability and unlimited potential. We at Jazz on the Square are thrilled to give him an opportunity to open the Saturday set for the Jazz Festival.

The Paul Abella Trio seeks to fuse jazz and the sounds of Africa, the Caribbean and modern rock music. Tim Gault of the Chicago Jazz Magazine says, "The trio offers a set of unusual rhythms and stylistic couplings to mainstream tunes, and the result is delightful." Paul Abella is well known in the Chicago jazz scene as an outstanding contributor to jazz performance throughout out the region, jazz radio through his work at WDCB, and the jazz written media like Chicago Jazz Magazine. His guitarist, Bill Denk, is one of the founders of Jazz on the Square.

The Saturday night headliner of the 2019 Jazz on the Square Woodstock Jazz Festival is P. Mauriat Performing Artist John Wojciechoswki. Wojciechowski's amazing compositions and incredible tenor sax work make his quartet in highly sought-after group. The quartet also features Ryan Cohen, Dennis Carrol and Dana Hall, all master jazz musicians with lists of accomplishments and recognitions too long to list. Together they create a tight knit ensemble which takes jazz to an all new level. Several years ago, Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune has said it well, "Listen to the vibrancy of his sound, the ingenuity of his lines and the originality of his compositions, and you're hearing a once-promising saxophonist asserting himself as a mature master." John Wojciechowski, identified as Downbeat Magazine's Critic's poll in the Rising Star Category for Soprano, Alto, and Tenor Saxophones and recognized as the third place winner in the internationally acclaimed 1996 Thelonious Monk Competition, is truly a master performer, composer, and educator. Saxophonist John Wojciechowski is truly an urban musician through and through. He grew up and developed his powerful tenor sound in Detroit which he describes as "a really rich community with a lot of great players." Since 2002, he has thrived in Chicago, working alongside some of the best players in the city. He has become a mainstay and sought after soprano-alto and tenor sax player in Chicago's world-class jazz scene and has played alongside of some of the best players in the city. Since 2004 he has been an inspiring music educator at St. Charles North High School.

Jazz on the Square is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization based in Woodstock. Its mission is to provide great live jazz performance and education in Northern Illinois. It sponsors educational, user-friendly jam sessions each first and third Friday of the month from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Stage Left Café on the Square in Woodstock. Musicians, young and old, of all skill levels are welcome to come and experience the joy of playing live jazz. It also has a scholarship program for area high school students to attend music camps and education.


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