The 21st annual Charlie Christian International Jazz Festival will begin at 7 p.m. June 6 with a live jam session at Club Spyce, 319 E Sheridan in Bricktown, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Musicians can bring their instruments and perform with house band Lonnie Easter and Friends.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, saxophonist Grady Nichols will square off with Dallas, Texas, saxophonist Tom Braxton at 7:30 p.m. June 8 in the Battle of the Bands at Bricktown Brewery in Oklahoma City.
The jazz festival will continue with the Jazz Explosion at 7:30 p.m. June 9, featuring five-time Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker in Oklahoma City. Detroit female jazz quintet Straight Ahead will be the concert opener. The Les Mannequins Modeling Club take the stage in the Snazzy, Jazzy, Pizzazzy Fashion Show.
The free weekend outdoor festival will be on June 10 on Oklahoma Avenue, north of Sheridan Avenue in Bricktown. Regional and local jazz and blues bands will play continuous music from noon to midnight. Jazz organist Jeremy Thomas from the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab will be among Saturday’s featured performers. Headliner jazz pianist Butch Thompson, formerly of Prairie Home Companion, will close the festival June 11 following a gospel and jazz lineup that day.
Former Oklahoma City television personality Beverly Glover is chairman of the 21st annual Charlie Christian International Jazz Festival. For ticket locations and event schedule, call (405) 524-3800 or go online to www.charliechristianjazz.org.
The Charlie Christian International Jazz Festival honors the legacy of the late Oklahoma City jazz guitarist Charlie Christian. The son of a blind, itinerant blues singer, Christian came to Oklahoma City in 1929. He was considered a local hero since his school days when he played a homemade instrument, and Oklahoma City native Ralph Ellison said, "No other cigar box ever made such sounds." Christian later had a brief career with the Benny Goodman Sextet during the 1940s. Although technically a swing stylist, Christian’s musical vocabulary was studied and emulated by bop players. Christian died of tuberculosis at age 25 in Staten Island, New York.
The jazz festival is sponsored by Adecco, Banc First, Chrysler Jeep, Oklahoma Arts Council, City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Southwestern Stationery and Bank Supply. This is an Oklahoma Centennial project.