The fourth spring edition of the Exit Zero Jazz Festival is set to kick off Friday through Sunday, April 21-23 in and around Cape May.
Opening night will celebrate the music of American icon Ray Charles with “To Ray with Love: The Ultimate Tribute to Ray Charles” featuring funk saxophonist Maceo Parker with the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes 8 p.m. on the MusicConnects Stage in the Paul Schmidtchen Theater at Lower Cape May Regional High School. The tribute premiered at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer of 2016, followed by a performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. This is the project’s East Coast premiere.
On Saturday, the Grammy-winning Robert Glasper Experiment will headline the Schmidtchen Theater. Glasper, a pianist who blurs the lines between acoustic jazz, hip-hop and contemporary R&B, became a crossover star with his electro-acoustic Experiment band after the game-changing 2012 release “Black Radio,” which won a Grammy for best R&B album. He composed the soundtrack for director and actor Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead” and performed at the White House with rapper Common.
The Exit Zero Jazz Festival is a multigenre, multivenue festival offering three days of performances staged in the 1,177-seat Schmidtchen Theater, the 800-seat Cape May Convention Hall, and various Cape May clubs. Featured artists performing at Cape May Convention Hall include Charnett Moffett's Nettwork Trio with Brian Jackson, Jeff "Tain" Watts and Scott Tixier; and Kenny Barron, Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah and 2017 MusicConnects artist in residence Michael Pedicin.
The festival lineup also includes the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, PhillyBloco, Brian Betz and Denis DiBlasio Quartet, the Freddie Hendrix 4tet and more.
The Stooges Band performs 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Carney's Main Room. Violinist Daisy Castro will perform her brand of gypsy jazz 9 and 11 p.m. Friday at the Iron Pier Craft House, 3 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Carney’s Other Room, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Cape May Brewery Stage at Cabanas.
Exit Zero Jazz Festival is produced by Spy Boy Productions, helmed by Michael Kline, who also produces the Rootstock Summer Concert Series at Hawk Haven Winery and the Cape May Convention Hall Summer Series. Kline celebrated many summers in Cape May and returned in 2005 from New Orleans.
“We want to offer a world-class cultural experience in Cape May that rivals those of other iconic festivals and trumpets the vibrant, thriving community in Cape May beyond the incredible beaches and Victorian architecture. Through music, we celebrate the spirit and creative energy in Cape May. It’s always a great party, and we’re thrilled that people keep coming back for more,” he said in a press release.
Named after the exit to Cape May off the Garden State Parkway, the festival attracts thousands of people. The Festival features Grammy Award-winning artists, living legends, NEA jazz masters, emerging jazz stars, international musicians and home-grown talent. It is supported by festival presenters Motéma Music, Exit Zero Magazine and Chris Clemans Sotheby’s International Realty, Congress Hall (official hotel of the jazz festival), Whale’s Tale, It’s a Breeze, Hawk Haven Winery and Vineyard, Cape May Brewing Company and other area businesses.
Tickets can be purchased at exit0jazzfest.com or by calling Exit Zero Jazz Festival Central at 609-849-9202. Individual tickets are available to all main stage performances in Schmidtchen Theater and Cape May Convention Hall.
A VIP pass is $195 and includes reserved orchestra center seating to headline performances in Schmidtchen Theater, reserved seating for all Cape May Conventional Hall performances, access to the VIP lounge with private bar, priority entry to Congress Hall Ballroom performances and entry into all festival club venues. An all-event pass is $175 and includes orchestra reserved seats to headline performances in Schmidtchen Theater, priority entry in Cape May Convention Hall performances and entry to all club venues. A Cape May Brewing Company Hops pass is $55 and includes entry to all club venues.
A Friday pass is $85 and includes reserved seat to “The Ultimate Ray Charles Tribute” admission to NeTTWork Trio, and entry into all club shows April 21. A Saturday pass is $125 and includes a reserved seat to Robert Glasper Experiment performance in Schmidtchen Theater; admission to the Michael Pedicin, Kenny Barron and Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah performaces; and all club shows Saturday and Sunday. A Sunday all-access pass is $30 and allows entry to all club performances Sunday.
Taxes and facility fees not included. Club venue seating is first come, first served.
For a complete schedule of performances and other information see exit0jazzfest.com.