The powerhouse keyboardist who helped drive John Coltrane to his greatest heights, Tyner (pictured above) remains a commanding presence at age 78, as he proved in gigs last fall at the Dakota Jazz Club. He’ll play the free stage in St. Paul’s Mears Park at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24.
The roster for the 19th annual festival sticks pretty closely to the jazz tradition, after flirting with New Orleans R&B (2015 headliner Dr. John) and pop/hip-hop (2016 act Michael Franti) in the past couple years.
The lineup also includes a trumpet great – New Orleans-steeped talent Terence Blanchard. (It wouldn’t really seem like TCJF without a taste of NOLA; last year it was piano professor Ellis Marsalis in the headline slot.) An Art Blakey-schooled veteran who’s been a solo artist and frequent film composer (see: Spike Lee) since 1983, Blanchard (pictured at left) also was a recent visitor to the Dakota with his funky E-Collective. (8 p.m. Thursday, June 22 Mears Park.)
There’s a rising star on tap, too. Anat Cohen (right), the Israeli-born, New York-based clarinetist and saxophonist who has concocted a beguiling blend of jazz, classical and Latin American traditions – including choro, an old musical style sometimes called the New Orleans jazz of Brazil. (8:30 p.m. Friday, June 23, Mears Park.)
And, finally, there’s a local hero: Bobby Lyle (left), the keyboardist who launched his career in Twin Cities nightclubs as a teenager and became a leading light in the jazz-funk-rock era, playing with Young-Holt Unlimited, Sly & the Family Stone, Ronnie Laws, George Benson and the late Al Jarreau – not to mention serving as musical director for Bette Midler. (6 p.m. Saturday, June 24, Mears Park.)
The three-day festival in Saint Paul's Lowertown will include two other free outdoor stages – those acts will be named later – as well as performances at more than 20 clubs and other venues.