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Walter Smith III. Photo courtesy John Rogers WBGO New York.

Walter Smith III. Photo courtesy John Rogers WBGO New York.

Music fans, clear your calendars – the largest jazz event of the Twin Cities is coming to St. Paul this weekend. In addition to the many local musicians who’ll be playing on stages around the city, the 15th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival national headliners include pianist and composer Kenny Werner, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and Walter Smith III on saxophone with jazz drummer/composer Matt Slocum.

In addition to the festival’s two main stages in Mears Park, performances by scads of area musicians will take place across the greater downtown area: Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Minnesota Music Cafe, Artists’ Quarter, and the Hat Trick Lounge, as well as Mancini’s, Senor Wong, Golden’s Deli, Saint Paul Hotel and the Bulldog Lowertown. Local standouts on the docket include: (Thursday) pianists Butch Thompson and Jon Weber at the Black Dog, vocalists Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson at Mancini’s; (Friday) Cory Wong and Bryan Nichols at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall, the Minnesota Vocal Showcase at Golden’s Deli. But the biggest night looks to be the last, with too many good acts in store for Saturday, and all over town, to call out here individually. Check it out: find the last evening’s full line-up of shows here.

Cyrus Chestnut. Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

Cyrus Chestnut. Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

The shows are far flung enough that the jazz fest isn’t easily walkable if you’ve a lot of musicians to see. If you’re inclined to take in specific shows, be sure to take advantage of Metro Transit’s offer of a free bus/light rail pass for festival-goers. With an expected turnout of some 30,000 jazz lovers, you’ll not want to hassle with driving (and parking) more than necessary.

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival will run from June 27 to 29 in various venues around St. Paul. There are two primary stages in Mears Park, where the headline musicians will play. All shows are free and open to the public. Find detailed information about participating musicians, venues and more: http://www.hotsummerjazz.com/

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