Ernie and Ron Isley in Teaneck, NJ (306046)
Credit: Warren Fields photo

After being on lockdown for 15 months avoiding that horrendous COVID-19 pandemic, the doors have opened just in time for the summer we are free to return to live music venues in-doors and out but wear masks in case. Outdoor jazz festivals are back.

Jazz in the Valley wasn’t sure about its return this summer but after careful consideration and conversations with Poughkeepsie city officials and mayor, the festival will return on Aug. 15 (noon to 6 p.m.). “City officials said the community was ready and needed the festival to move forward,” explained festival founder and producer Greer Smith (TRANSART & Cultural Services, Inc). “After the pandemic wreaked havoc on the music industry, and the world in general, we are pleased to return to Waryas Park to celebrate our 21st year of Jazz in the Valley. Based on the love shown to us, we know there is no better way to highlight our return than to present a special tribute to the future of jazz.”

The day-long festival will feature its Artistic Director Javon Jackson and his Quartet celebrating the future of jazz with four young titans; the Curtis Brothers (Zaccai on piano and Luques on Bass), saxophonist and composer Lakecia Benjamin, pianist Julius Rodriguez and vocalist Samara Joy (a warm refreshing sound), who are advancing the sound of jazz in varied directions.

Tent seating will be limited this year, and lawn seating will have enhanced sound and attendees are invited to bring chairs or blankets. Due to evolving pandemic protocols, JITV will announce any additional safety procedures closer to the event.

For a complete schedule and tickets visit the website

One of the most exciting free jazz festivals is the Detroit Jazz Festival that takes place every Labor Day weekend from Sept. 3-6. The 2021 lineup has been announced and all artists will be performing live and up close. Headlining performers will include Dee Dee Bridgewater (the festival’s 2021 artist in residence), Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Abdullah Ibrahim, Anat Cohen, Sean Jones, Kenny Garrett, and Gregory Porter.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced live music events around the world to shut down last year, the festival continued with a live-streamed format. The downtown Hart Plaza and Campus Martius arears have allowed for more open space and social distancing.

The festival opens with Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Woodshed Network Ladies and pianist, composer, NEA Jazz Master Herbie Hancock Sept. 5 will be an outstanding day of on the edge music from the rousing Cuban pianist and composer Roberto Fonseca, Dee Dee Bridgewater/Bill Charlap, South African legendary pianist Abdulla Ibrahim and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra, and Aziza featuring Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, and Eric Harland, and Gregory Porter. The festival closes with Eddie Daniels and Bob James: Exploring New Worlds, Dee Dee Bridgewater Female Big Band and Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is one of the most colorful festivals in the U.S. This city’s jazz lovers come out in their best threads. It is music plus an all-out fashion show. It reminds me of Easter Sunday in Harlem strolling down Lenox Avenue or the 125th Street corridor. There is nothing like it and the city has always been a hotbed for black music from the blues, R&B (Motown Sound) to jazz.

For a complete schedule visit the website

The Isley Brothers are significant in the legacy of Black music; their reign started in the 1950s with “Twist and Shout” and the string of hits continued with “Shout, Parts 1 & 2,” “This Old Heart of Mine,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Between the Sheets” and “Summer Breeze.”

They have performed and recorded with artists ranging from Lil’ Kim to Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Santana and Bon Jovi and, most recently, waged a Verzuz-Instagram Live battle with Earth, Wind & Fire hosted by Steve Harvey.

The Isley’s received a lifetime achievement award at the 2014 Grammys. “It’s Your Thing” was awarded the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1969.

For their long musical influence that began in New Jersey, two streets were named in their honor “Isley Brothers Way” in the cities of Teaneck at the intersection of Van Cortland Terrace and Van Arsdale Place and a separate street-naming ceremony at the intersection of Liberty Road and Greenleaf Avenue in Englewood, N.J. The smooth singing Ron Isley and guitarist Ernie were present at both ceremonies. “It’s beyond words for me to express my level of appreciation and gratitude,” said Ernie.

Ernie Isley was living in Englewood and Ron in Teaneck in the mid-1960s when they and brother Rudolph, then of Irvington, created T-Neck records (under the Sony label 1970s).

“It’s a blessing man,” said Ron Isley. “My brothers O’Kelly and Marvin are not here. They passed. My brother Rudolph is in Chicago, in the ministry. This naming means the world to Ernie, me and the whole Isley, something we don’t take for granted. The fact that we named our label after Teaneck goes without saying.”

Originally from Cincinnati, the Isley Brothers band briefly included Jimi Hendrix on the T-Neck-recorded “Testify” and “Move On Over and Let Me Dance.”

The Isley’s are moving fast with tours starting in July, the recent release of “Friends & Family” with Snoop Dogg and a new documentary/concert film. “It was my wife’s (Kandy Isley) idea to film a concert and include the stories about us making these songs, their lyrics, development and more,” says Ron Isley. “It went from being one thing into becoming a movie unto itself, something astronomical.”