Finding its roots in New Orleans in the 1880s, the music genre of jazz improvised its way from a blend of ragtime, marches, blues and other types of music as African American musical traditions mixed with European influences. Today, jazz is a broad style of music distinguished by syncopated rhythms and complex harmonies with regional flares and flavors as original as America’s melting pot. While last month was officially Jazz Appreciation Month, music lovers across the Levitt network of music venues and concert sites are celebrating this truly American artform all summer long!
Activating underused public spaces, ensuring access to the arts and strengthening the social fabric of communities through creative placemaking, Levitt venues and concert sites are bringing the joy of free, live music to towns and cities of all sizes across America. Here are a few jazz performances we’re looking forward to hearing this season from our Levitt partners across the country, many of whom have recently announced their season lineup. Check them out!
Levitt Pavilion Arlington
Fridays–Sundays, May 6–September 4 | 8 p.m.
Founders Plaza | 100 W. Abram St.
*Concerts after July 3rd start at 8:30 p.m.
The Soul Rebels | 5/22/2022 @ 8:30 p.m.
The Soul Rebels are returning to Levitt Pavilion Arlington after their first performance at the venue in 2011. Since then, they have received national attention for their unique blend of the New Orleans brass tradition they grew on with hip hop, jazz, pop and rock, all within a brass band context. They have performed with big name artists like Katy Perry and DMX and have also been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk series, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and headlined a set at the TED Conference. The Soul Rebels have toured all over the world including Europe, Australia, China, South Korea and Japan. Brace yourself for New Orleans’ finest brass band and get ready to dance the night away!
Levitt AMP Fort Smith
Thursdays, May 12–July 14 | 6 p.m.
Riverfront Amphitheater | 121 Riverfront Dr.
Michael Fields, Jr. | 6/23/2022
Now in its second season, Levitt AMP Fort Smith, presented by 64.6 Downtown, brings international recording artist, bassist and producer Michael Fields, Jr. to town! He can be heard on smooth jazz stations worldwide—his single, “Get Up On It” peaked at #28 on the Smooth Jazz Top 100 charts and is sure to be a crowd pleaser when he performs at the city’s scenic Riverfront Amphitheater on the shores of the historic Arkansas River. His gifts on the bass are complimented by his skilled production and composing chops. He’s performed and recorded with notable artists such as Peabo Bryson, Marcus Miller, Ben Tankard and Walter Beasley, to name a few. The North Carolina native has been inspired tremendously by the music of Victor Wooten, Bootsie Collins and the late great Wayman Tisdale. He is also the founder of Water From Productions, Jazz On Green and, in 2021, he founded the Keep Music Alive Foundation, which provides instruments and music lessons for persons of low socioeconomic means, who otherwise would not have the ability to purchase or participate.
Levitt Shell Sioux Falls
Thursdays–Saturdays, June 3–Sept. 10 | Lawn opens @ 6:30 p.m.
Falls Park West | 504 N. Phillips Ave.
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra | 7/7/2022 @ 7 p.m.
Known locally as “Levitt at the Falls,” Levitt Shell Sioux Falls will present The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) this July for an unforgettable evening. The National Museum of American History is the nation’s only museum with its own jazz orchestra, which was founded in 1990 with an appropriation from Congress in recognition of the importance of jazz in American culture and its status as a national treasure. A beloved fixture of the greater Washington, D.C. music scene, each year SJMO offers an annual concert season and performs nationally at festivals and educational programs across the country. The SJMO presents concerts featuring transcribed works, new arrangements, commissioned works, and programs that illuminate the work of jazz masters who contributed to the development of American jazz and defined the music’s character.
Levitt AMP Springfield
Thursdays, June 2–August 4 | 7 p.m.
Y-Block | S 4th St & E Jackson St.
Levitt AMP Galva
Sundays, May 29–August 7 | 6 p.m.
Wiley Park | 370 NW Fifth Ave.
*There will be no concert July 3
Terrance Simien | 7/7/2022 (Springfield) | 7/17/2022 (Galva)
Marcella Simien | 7/7/2022 (Springfield) | 7/17/2022 (Galva)
Two-time GRAMMY®-winner Terrance Simien will stop in two Illinois Levitt AMP communities this summer: the state capital of Springfield, and two hours to the north, the small town of Galva! Levitt AMP Springfield, presented by Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, is in its third season of bringing the community together through free concerts, while the Galva Arts Council has presented the popular Levitt AMP Galva Music Series since 2018. Audiences in both of these communities will be treated to Simien’s hypnotic blend of New Orleans funk-reggae-flavored-world-blues-American zydeco roots music that beckons people to their feet and into the groove. Leading his Zydeco Experience band, Simien has become one of the most respected and accomplished artists in American roots music today. He and his band mates have performed over 7,000 concerts and toured millions of miles to over 45 countries during their eventful career. Springfield and Galva residents are in for a special treat—Marcella Simien, a talented artist and bandleader herself, will join her dad on stage and bring her family’s Creole roots to life.
Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles
Fridays–Sundays, June 18–Sept. 4 | Check website for times
MacArthur Park | W. 6th Street and S. Park View St.
Joe Bataan/Westside Crew/Ruben Molina | 7/9/22 @ 7 p.m.
The LA-based Southern Soul Spinners collective presents a concert reminiscent to the musical heyday when the bandshell at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles was first built in 1959. The evening’s highlight performance will be the “King of Latin soul,” Joe Bataan, whose bonafide street cred has endured a 60-year career blending mambo and pop tinged with R&B and Latin Jazz, emphasizing short, ultra-catchy tunes and infectious rhythms! Though Bataan was not the first or only artist to combine doo-wop-style singing with Latin rhythms, his talent caught the attention of Fania Records in 1966, with whom he released eight albums that often mixed energetic Latin dance songs, sung in Spanish, with slower, English-language soul ballads. Westside Crew, a 10-piece band based in Los Angeles, and historian, DJ and author Ruben Molina complement the legendary Bataan with throwback sounds that are perfect for free music under the stars at the historic MacArthur Park!
Levitt AMP Stevens Point
Thursdays, June 2–August 4 | 7 p.m.
Y-Block | S 4th St & E Jackson St.
Empire Strikes Brass | 8/4/2022
Familiar to audiences across the Levitt network, but making their Levitt AMP Stevens Point debut, Empire Strikes Brass (ESB) has a lot to say with a big sound! Asheville, NC-based brass/funk/rock band is chock-full of serious groove from a thumping rhythm section highlighted by lush horn arrangements, the band’s compositional roots as well as its creative and collaborative soul contribute lots of depth in their original tunes and covers that speak volumes to ESB’s evolution. Founded in 2012, ESB has grown from a party band of friends playing New Orleans-originated or inspired second-line and funk tunes with elements of rock and jam. Now, it consists of a collective of players, singers, songwriters, and producers who have found an original sound that fuses their individual musical influences with fresh ideas, while still holding true to their foundation. Re-framing the story of small town Midwestern living, the Levitt AMP Stevens Point Music Series, presented by CREATE Portage County, has elevated the local arts scene since 2017.
Keep your eyes posted here as we’ll highlight future upcoming shows in Levitt communities. Curious where you can catch free Levitt concerts near you? Check out all 25 Levitt towns and cities by visiting our Locations page to learn where free Levitt concerts are happening this season, featuring a broad range of music genres including jazz, pop, rock, folk, blues and so much more. Grab some blankets, lawn chairs, a few friends, and your picnic basket before heading out to a Levitt concert series this summer, and share your Levitt concert experience by using the hashtag #MusicMoves starting June 1!