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Dudley Jazz Festival is back

Three generations of jazz musicians to play at Mary Hannon Park

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Dudley Jazz Festival is back
Fred Woodard, festival founder COURTESY PHOTO

The Dudley Jazz Festival is back this summer, showcasing three generations of jazz musicians at Mary Hannon Park on Saturday, Aug. 21, 12:30-4:30 p.m. The beloved festival has been bringing free music to the Roxbury/Dorchester community since 2016.

Jazz musician, educator and founder of the festival Fred Woodard says, “In the general mainstream media, you don’t hear a lot of jazz music. And if you want to go hear jazz music at different venues like the Regatta Bar or Scullers, it costs quite a bit of money.” This festival provides high-quality jazz music for free. Over the years, Woodard has found that the festival attracts not only community members and jazz aficionados, but music industry professionals as well.


This year’s lineup includes three musicians and their bands: Tyson Jackson, Fred Woodard and Bill Pierce. The talented musicians represent three generations of jazz in the Boston area and all have honed their skills at the city’s very own Berklee College of Music.

Jackson is a young, dedicated and talented drummer who has worked with renowned artists such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terence Blanchard and Terri Lyne Carrington, among many others. “His group is also unique because he’s a drummer,” says Woodard. “It’s a drummer-led ensemble and that brings a special flavor to it.” Jackson’s passion for music was born in the church pews of his hometown West Palm Beach, Florida and brought him to Boston for a master’s degree in Global Jazz Performance at Berklee.


Woodard was moved by the beats of rhythm and blues since childhood, and a seven-week high school program at Berklee solidified his desire to become a professional musician. In addition to performing around the city, Woodard teaches at the BPS Roland Hayes School of Music. A master of guitar and composition, Woodard will be performing some of his original works as well as classic jazz standards at the festival.

Pierce is a distinguished jazz saxophonist and educator. Since graduating from Berklee in 1972, Pierce has been playing with jazz greats such as Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Bobby Watson and Donald Harrison. He also has an extensive collaboration with the Tony Williams Quintet under his belt. “Bill Pierce is what I would call a statesman. He’s somewhat of an icon in the jazz world and in Boston in particular,” says Woodard. “He’s well versed in several areas — education and performance and recording.” Woodard has been pursuing Pierce to participate in the festival for three years. At last the timing has aligned.

The festival will begin promptly at 12 p.m., rain or shine. Some local vendors will have booths and concessions will be available. High-quality music is the crux of the event, Woodard says, and he is excited to be bringing the festival back to the community.

“Over the years since 2016 when I started it, it’s been really well received, and I think people look forward to it,” he says. “My mission really is to offer free music to my neighborhood.”