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Take the ‘A’ train to Dudley

Dorchester jazz festival back for second year

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO

This Saturday, August 5, jazz vocalist Patrice Williamson and pianist George W. Russell Jr. will hit the stage with other local talent for the second annual Dudley Jazz Festival. Held at Mary Hannon Park in Dorchester from 12-6 p.m., the festival provides a free, accessible platform for locals to enjoy music inspired by and created in their neighborhood. The festival was assembled in collaboration with the nonprofit Creative Cultural Arts, Inc. In addition to performances, the event will feature food trucks and talks by performers.

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For more information about the Dudley Jazz Festival and to learn about the artists, visit:

Musician Fred Woodard of the Fred Woodard Collective founded the festival in 2016. “I think it’s important because it’s accessible,” he says. “It’s in the neighborhood. It’s free. People can see what jazz is all about without spending a lot of money.” This year, Williamson and Russell Jr. perform for the first time, joining The Makanda Project and Woodard’s band.

The Makanda Project is a veteran group. They’ve been performing original compositions by Boston native Makanda Ken McIntyre in the Roxbury area for 12 years. But this year, they’re trying something different. Their festival set will focus on compositions by trombonist and trumpeter Ku-Umba Frank Lacy.

John Kordalewski, founder of the Makanda Project, says, “Frank describes his compositions as anthems. There’s grandeur involved.” He says Lacy’s music has powerful bluesy underpinnings that give the music drive and command. An anthem may be just what people need right now. Kordalewski hopes the festival brings the community together against oppression. “I’d like people to walk away with joy and increased determination to resist Donald Trump,” he says.

Patrice Williamson also has a subtle activist agenda. A lifelong lover and scholar of Ella Fitzgerald’s music, she plans to perform many of her songs. The talented vocalist speaks of Fitzgerald like an old friend. She tells her stories with respect and excitement. “She was a badass musician,” says Williamson. “Many musicians were trying to sort out the “chick singer” identity and she was right there in the moment.” Williamson hopes to inspire women with her tales of Fitzgerald’s fearlessness in a man’s world.

Beyond Fitzgerald’s boldness, Williamson reveres her music for its quality. There’s a craft and intent in classic jazz that can’t always be found in contemporary popular tunes. “I’m most excited and hopeful that there will be young people there,” says Williamson. ‘I want to introduce them to more complex harmonies.”

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