ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Next weekend jazz music takes over venues on both sides of the Mississippi River. The Polyrhythms Jazz & Heritage Festival returns for it's 4th year.
Festival Volunteer Anthony Sconyers joined us to talk more about what we can expect. This year it's being held in honor of Bill Bell, a former East Moline music teacher. The 4th Annual Polyrhythms Jazz & Heritage festival is begins Friday and continues Saturday in Martin Luther King Park in Rock Island. Then on Sunday the venue shifts to the Redstone Room at the River Music Experience in Davenport. It is free to attend. There's a Facebook page with more information here. You can catch Anthony's interview in the video above. Below is the official press release with more information:
FOURTH ANNUAL POLYRHYTHMS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL HONORS BILL BELL
August 18-20: Renowned Chicago jazz singers Maggie Brown and Africa Brown “2Brown Sisters”, The Curtis Hawkins Band, Los Mocambos, James Culver & Kuchina Jazz Collective, and Frankie Fontange & The Ramblers are among the featured performers at the 4th Annual Bill Bell Jazz & Heritage Festival August 18 & 19 at Martin Luther King Park, Rock Island, IL and August 20 at the River Music Experience, Davenport, IA.
Festival headliner features one of Chicago’s most appreciated female vocalists, Maggie Brown AND her sultry sister Africa, doing what they do best: singing with theatrics on stage. These “2Brown Sisters” energetically merge their foundations in jazz with the melting pot of their musical upbringing. 2Brown Sisters performances are harmonious blends, emitting their sisterly love and often comical chemistry on stage. Always enjoyable and rich with relevance, 2Brown Sisters are thoughtful when fashioning a show, drawing not only from the rich treasure trove of material from their prolific father but, more recently, their own original songs. Africa & Maggie, children of singer, songwriter, playwright Oscar Brown Jr. carry on his legacy offering insight into history, culture and life and include a world music sensibility, blending genres from classic jazz and ballads, to spoken word and folk tales set to hip-hop and afro-cuban rhythms.
The Polyrhythms Jazz Series struggles to shake off the feelings of anomie associated with the March death of former Watertown (East Moline) legendary musician educator, “The Jazz Professor” Bill Bell. It is in his honor that Polyrhythms has renamed this festival, to be known as the Bill Bell Jazz & Heritage Festival, which celebrates our Quad-Cities cultural heritage in locations that honor legacy. Bill Bell embodied the values of excellence in music, ethics and community enrichment; through dedication, commitment, perseverance and hard work. Certainly others are praiseworthy, but Bill Bell is one of 5 local musicians honored on the RME’s Wall of Fame.
Given our rich musical tradition, the diminishing availability of first person links to this legacy are made painfully aware with the March death of Bill Bell, our friend, mentor, inspiration and consultant. Bill never forgot his hometown, and always returned to share his art, his wisdom and his skills. He was instrumental in advising and performing with the Mt Zion “Building Bridges Mentoring Project,” and the “Jazz and Blues Restoration Project,” a precursor of Polyrhythms, as well as a residency with the Blues Society. Bell was the third artist to perform at Polyrhythms Third Sunday Jazz Series in the spring of 2005 and helped shape the program. He returned four more times for this series, the last time being May 19, 2013 before being restricted by health issues; but he called often to check and see how the program was going or how musicians (like Manuel Lopez III, Ron Wilson and others) and the students were doing. The community cannot replace him or the gifts he generously gave us. “They can’t take that away from me.”
“We are pleased to honor Bill Bell in this way! Our grandparents, parents and friends also contributed greatly, physically and creatively, to the building of the Quad Cities and we wish to continue to sow the seeds of our unique culture for generations to come” said festival organizer Shellie Moore-Guy. “We are dedicated to creating and growing an exciting and sustainable event that audiences, locally and regionally can relate to. We are building and growing a festival reflective of, and befitting the cultural diversity that builds and sustains the Quad-City area.”
The Quad Cities Jazz festival, LTD/Polyrhythms, is a grass roots non-profit organization dedicated to community and cultural arts advocacy. To reiterate our goals and our concept: At the root, we are community development folk. Our interpretation of the artistic side of bricks and mortar includes building a positive and meaningful tradition in the in the form of a jazz and heritage festivalthat celebrates the legacy of our grandparents who contributed greatly, physically and creatively, to the building of the Quad Cities. The music encompasses many styles associated with the area: blues, R&B, gospel music, Latin, folk music, rock, rap, and of course jazz, both contemporary and traditional.
On Friday, August 18th (5-10) and Saturday, August.19th (12-10) the setting is Martin Luther King Park in a historic and rejuvenated Rock Island neighborhood. Entertainments include family-friendly fare - Metro Youth Program, Hands & Hearts Drumming, Teranga House drum circle, local Native American performances, and Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico, Reggie and the Three Notes, The Curtis Hawkins Band, Los Mocambos, The Lowdown, James Culver, The Uniphonics, and Frankie Fontagne & the Ramblers.
Sunday August 20th (3-8) the venue shifts to the Redstone Room at the River Music Experience which hosts the Bill Bell Tribute followed by the headliner “2Brown Sisters."