The 5th Annual Charleston Jazz Festival Announces a Star-Studded Line-Up for 2019


Festival to showcase Bobby McFerrin with Ranky Tanky, Nestor Torres, and top Charleston jazz bands and youth artists!


CHARLESTON, SC December 18, 2018 – The highly anticipated Charleston Jazz Festival is back for its fifth year in the Holy City with a star-studded line-up. This 4-day festival presents over 100 professional and youth jazz artists from the national, regional and local jazz scene.

The festival takes place January 24 – 27, 2019 with events at multiple locations throughout Charleston including the Charleston Music Hall. Charleston Gaillard Center, Dockery’s, and the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre. The 2019 line-up is expected to draw nearly 4,000 jazz lovers with 30% from outside Charleston.

Headliners for the 5th annual jazz festival include 10 time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin with Charleston’s Ranky Tanky at the Charleston Gaillard Center on January 26.  With 10 Grammy Awards and his #1 global hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin’s great gift to his audience is transforming a concert hall into a playground. For years, the jazz and classical worlds have celebrated Mr. McFerrin’s innovative technique and spirit and his concerts are often described as “legendary.” Sharing the stage with Bobby McFerrin is Charleston’s Ranky Tanky, a gifted quintet of celebrated musicians from the South Carolina Lowcountry, most of whom trace their roots directly back to a unique African American culture called Gullah.  Released in October of 2017, Ranky Tanky’s debut album reached #1 on the Billboard, Amazon and iTunes jazz charts.

The 5th annual festival also welcomes Latin jazz all-star Nestor Torres. This talented jazz flautist and his band from Miami will perform at the Charleston Music Hall on January 24, 2019. Nestor has recorded 14 solo albums, received four Latin Grammy nominations, one Grammy nomination, and one Latin Grammy Award. He has collaborated with a diverse range of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Loggins, Tito Puente, Michel Camilo, Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Nestor studied flute at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He learned to improvise with ‘Charanga’ Cuban Dance music, which helped shape his unique melodic and danceable style.

Charleston’s talented local jazz artists will also be featured at Dockery’s on Daniel Island on January 25, 2019.  The local band line-up includes:

Steve Simon & the Kings of Jazz  – This popular band led by Charleston’s dynamic jazz clarinetist Steve Simon, combines the funk of George Benson, the soul of Ray Charles and the smoothness of Diana Krall. Joining Steve are Lowcountry jazz legends Oscar Rivers Jr. (piano) and Leroy Smalls (saxophone), along with Jeremy Wolf (bass), Markie Morant (drums) and three talented jazz vocalists including Chanel Chanel, Bobbie Storm and Bobby Alvarez.

The Robert Lewis Quartet: The Acoustic Side of Michael Brecker –  This concert features the saxophone chops of Robert Lewis along with an all-star band including Demetrius Doctor (piano), Ben Wells (bass), and David Patterson (drums). The band will pay tribute to one of the most influential and beloved tenor saxophonists since John Coltrane – Michael Brecker.  His performances on hundreds of jazz, pop, R&B, and rock albums largely defined the sound of the saxophone through the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. He is widely admired for his contributions to albums by Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, John Lennon, and countless others, but it is his jazz recordings that completely re-imagined the possibilities of the saxophone and the genre of jazz.

Robbie Madison and Kanika Moore: Crooners & Currents – This remarkable vocal duo will celebrate jazz vocalists from yesteryear and today with classics by Al Jarreau, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra intertwined with music by Esperanza Spaulding, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and Michael Bublé.  Joining Robbie and Kanika are three of Charleston’s favorite musicians: Jonathan Lovett (piano), Alex Kellner (bass), and Ron Wiltrout (drums).

Simon Harding Sextet: Hard Bop Homecoming – This exciting concert features the return of Charleston’s saxophone great Simon Harding. Simon, who now lives in Waterloo, Iowa, returns to play the straight-ahead, high-energy jazz known as Hard Bop, which came into prominence in the late 1950’s and 60’s. Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Art Blakey are some of its great pioneers and Simon’s group is sure to tackle this music to the ground. Joining Simon will be Jon Thornton (trumpet), Chris Connolly (Trombone), Richard White II (piano), Jeremy Wolf (bass), and Asa Holgate (drums).

Family Jazz Day will be held on Sunday, January 27 at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre and will feature the Charleston All-Star Youth Jazz Orchestra, the School of the Arts Jazz Band, and other visiting youth jazz bands. Family Jazz Day is free for children and students.

Proceeds from tickets sales support Charleston Jazz education programs.

2019 Charleston Jazz Festival Schedule

Thursday, January 24, 2019
8pm Nestor Torres – ($25 – $50)
Charleston Music Hall / 37 John Street / Charleston, SC / 29403

Friday, January 25, 2019
6pm Steve Simon and the Kings of Jazz ($25)
7:30pm Robert Lewis Quartet: The Acoustic Side of Michael Brecker ($25)
9pm Robbie Madison and Kanika Moore: Crooners and Currents ($25)
10:30pm Simon Harding Sextet: Hard Bop Homecoming ($25)
Dockery’s/ 880 Island Park Drive / Daniel Island, SC / 29492

Saturday, January 26, 2019
8pm Bobby McFerrin with Ranky Tanky ($50 – $125)
The Charleston Gaillard Center / 95 Calhoun Street / Charleston, SC / 29401

Sunday, January 27, 2019
Family Jazz Day
(Free Admission for students and children. Adults $5)
3 – 6pm
Charleston All-Star Youth Jazz Orchestra
Charleston School of the Arts (SOA) Jazz Band
Other Visiting Bands To Be Announced
A general admission ticket is required
The College of Charleston Sottile Theatre / 44 George Street / Charleston, SC 29401

The Charleston Jazz Festival is presented and produced by Charleston Jazz, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with a mission of growing a local and global community for jazz through performance, education and outreach while celebrating and preserving Charleston’s rich history in jazz.

About the Charleston Jazz Festival:
The Charleston Jazz Festival offers a world-class celebration of jazz by presenting timeless and creative productions that entertain audiences, stimulate arts education, foster economic growth and unite artists and audiences in Charleston. Each year, the festival line-up includes internationally acclaimed headliners, the best local jazz bands, and top youth artists performing a wide range of styles including Swing, Salsa, Blues, Brazilian, and the American Songbook.

Festival proceeds support scholarships at the Charleston Jazz Academy.

About Charleston Jazz:
Charleston Jazz is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote musical awareness and education including the recognition and preservation of the history of jazz in the Lowcountry through performances, special events and educational outreach. Established in 2008 as Jazz Artists of Charleston, the organization has earned a reputation for presenting, producing and advocating for all things jazz and the artists who bring this music to life in dynamic ways. The organization manages the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, the Charleston Jazz Festival and the Charleston Jazz Academy.

For more information and to schedule an interview, media appearance, or for hi-resolution images, contact Mary Beth Natarajan at

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