Jazz Calendar (Updated 5 / 8 / 2015)

May 8, 2015

Omaha Performing Arts again presents Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing this summer. The free outdoor concert series runs six consecutive Thursdays, from July 9 to August 13, 2015, in Turner Park at Midtown Crossing. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. on the permanent stage of The Pavilion at Turner Park. The lawn is open beginning at 5:00 p.m. every Thursday. This is the fifth year Omaha Performing Arts has presented the popular series.

Omaha Performing Arts has partnered with the Blues Society of Omaha and Omaha Ballroom to present free pre-show entertainment at most of the performances. A band from the Blues Society of Omaha’s non-profit youth artist development program, BluesEd, will perform before the start of three Jazz on the Green performances. An instructor from Omaha Ballroom will lead a pre-show dance lesson at two of the performances. Instructors at Omaha Ballroom, under the direction of Elizabeth Edwards, have been teaching dance for more than a decade. The pre-show runs from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. for the shows noted below.

Stooges Brass Band, a popular New Orleans-based brass band, begins the series with a performance on July 9. Emerging onto the scene in 1996, the Stooges Brass Band has gained notoriety as a full-blown musical party immersing the crowd in a cut-loose vibe that is contemporary yet rooted in the musical legacy of New Orleans. Pre-show music is by BluesEd.

The Puerto Rican-based band Plena Libre performs July 16. The band has introduced the Puerto Rican style of traditional music, plena and bomba, to a new generation, blending it with the Afro-Caribbean beats of merengue and cumbia, and Afro-Cuban style of mambo. Unlike salsa bands, who usually only have two singers, Plena Libre features five vocalists singing in three- and four-part harmonies. Pre-show Latin dance lessons led by Omaha Ballroom kick off the evening.

On July 23, head to the park to catch The Side Guys. The jazz-oriented group will feature the talented “side men” who’ve played with nationally touring artists such as David Sanborn, Boz Skaggs, Bonnie Raitt and more. Pre-show music is by BluesEd.

A big band out of Lincoln, Nebraska Jazz Orchestra performs on July 30. For more than 25 years, the ensemble has been playing traditional big band compositions by jazz masters such as Woody Herman, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, as well as new compositions and arrangements. Pre-show swing dance lessons are led by an Omaha Ballroom instructor.

Sonny Knight and the Lakers, a soulful band out of Minneapolis, plays on August 6. Expect more than Motown- and Stax-inspired sounds with this band led by the energetic 60-something Sonny Knight. The band is influenced by ‘60s and early ‘70s soul and funk records.

Mia Borders, a singer who infuses blues, soul and funk into her music, will perform with her band on August 13. New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, Borders’ hometown newspaper, describes her as “confident and cool,” which listeners will notice in her live performance. Pre-show music is by BluesEd.

All Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing concerts are free to the public, with no reservations or tickets needed. Seating in the center bowl of Turner Park, the grassy circular area with a direct view of the stage, will be permitted at 5:00 p.m., though the green spaces outside the bowl will be available before 5. Pre-show entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m. (except on August 6) and the headlining performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Midtown Crossing offers convenient and secure parking for more than 3,000 vehicles. Two parking garages are easily accessible from 33rd, Farnam and Harney streets. In both garages, the first three hours are free, and visitors pay only $1 for each hour thereafter (with a daily maximum fee of $6).

Sponsors for Omaha Performing Arts presents Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing are Mutual of Omaha, Omaha Steaks, C&A Industries, Inc., and Fran and Rich Juro. Media sponsors for this year’s series are Omaha World-Herald, KETV and KIOS. This year’s in-kind sponsors are Crystal Clear Water and Curzon Promotional Graphics. For more information about the series and the artists, visit JazzOnTheGreenOmaha.com