Monty Alexander and his Harlem-Kingston Express band is a jazz-reggae fusion band, which means they might not be a good choice to headline some jazz fests. But are just right for the Exit O International Jazz Festival, which takes place Nov. 7-9 at various Cape May locations.
“I really want the festival to be fun,” says festival producer Michael Kline, who also owns a Cape May-based jazz management and booking company. “It takes place in a resort town. We’ve got an opportunity to present great music to an audience that usually doesn’t get a chance to hear music like this. And in those main stage concerts, I want to make sure that I’m hitting some straightahead stuff, too.”
The festival, now in its third year, sold 3,000 tickets last year, Kline says. A different event, the Cape May Jazz Festival, took place semiannually in New Jersey’s southernmost town for 17 years before ending in 2011.
Other main attractions this year include The Cookers, an all-star hard-pop group featuring veteran players such as Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson and Billy Hart; singer René Marie; and New Orleans keyboardist and singer Jon Batiste.
Kline lived in New Orleans for more than a decade before Katrina hit and he relocated to Cape May. He has featured some New Orleans music in all three Exit 0 fests. “New Orleans musicians really have an onstage presence,” he says. “They make it fun.”
Wayne Piersanti of the defunct Cape May jazz club The Shire will host a performance by Steve Green & The Elevators, who used to play at The Shire, Nov. 7 at Carney’s Other Roon. As far as the state of the current Cape May jazz scene, Kline says: “There’s getting to be more. During the summer, it’s interesting, because you’ll hear jazz in some restaurants and bars around town. Nobody is really promoting it as, ‘We’ve got jazz bands during dinner tonight.’ It’s not that kind of thing. But you’re hearing it more and more. And then in the colder season, you’ll find it, definitely.”
Here is the festival’s schedule:
Aleathea’s at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St.
Nov. 8, 12:30 p.m.: Aaron Parks Trio
Nov. 8, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.: Johnny O’Neal
Nov. 8, 9:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.: Gem City
Cabanas Beach Bar & Grill, 429 Beach Ave.
Nov. 7, 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.: Cintron, featuring John Walsh
Nov. 8, 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.: Feedel Band
Nov. 9, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.: Gem City
Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave.
Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m.: The Cookers
Nov. 7, 9 p.m.: Jon Batiste and Stay Human
Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m.: René Marie
Nov. 8, 9 p.m.: Monty Alexander & the Harlem-Kingston Express
Carney’s Main Room, 411 Beach Ave.
Nov. 7, 9 and 11 p.m.: Nigel Hall
Nov. 8, noon and 2:30 p.m.: Bluebone
Nov. 8, 9 and 11 p.m.: Davina & the Vagabonds
Nov. 9, 1 and 3 p.m.: Lili Añel
Nov. 9, 2:15 and 4:15 p.m.: Frank Bey
Carney’s Other Room, 411 Beach Ave.
Nov. 7, 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.: Steve Green & the Elevators
Nov. 8, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.: Brian Betz Quartet, featuring Denis DiBlasio
Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place
Nov. 9, 10 a.m.: “JazzTimes Spins & Riffs” with René Marie and JazzTimes publisher Lee Mergner. Conversation and listening session, recorded for podcast.
Congress Hall Ballroom, 200 Congress Place
Nov. 9, 11 a.m.: Soulful Sunday Gospel Brunch, with Steve Green and the Musicians’ Fellowship
Congress Hall Boiler Room, 200 Congress Place
Nov. 7, 9:15 and 11:15 p.m.: Feedel Band
Nov. 8, 9:15 and 11:15 p.m.: Nigel Hall
The Ebbitt Room, 25 Jackson St.
Nov. 7: Stephanie Biddle and Nat Adderley Jr.
For information, visit Exit0JazzFest.com