Upcoming Shows

We are excited to announce the upcoming shows for our third season at BLU Jazz+! Additional dates & performers will continue to be added, so check back often to catch your favorite artists at Northeast Ohio’s premier destination for live jazz, fine food & spirits!
 
Tickets are general admission (unless otherwise noted) on a first-come, first served basis, and you are only guaranteed admission for the showtime listed on your ticket. Please buy your tickets online in advance to guarantee admission.
 
See you at the show!
 



Oct
25

Jackie Warren Northeast Ohio jazz & salsa pianist sensation brings her high-energy artistry to BLU for a very special midweek show! Featured guests often join the area's "First Lady of Jazz" for a tune or two - don't miss it!

Wednesday, October 25



Jackie Warren, a cornerstone of the Cleveland jazz & salsa scenes, is one of the most in-demand pianists in the area and has rightfully earned the nickname “Cleveland’s First Lady of Jazz.” As an educator, she has taught at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), and maintains a private studio. Ms. Warren has shared the stage with giants in both the jazz & salsa idioms, including David Fathead Newman, Benny Bailey, Clark Terry, Frank Morgan, Bobby Watson, Frank Foster, Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana, Los Munequitos de Matanzas, Othello Molineaux, Donald Harrison, Gerald Wilson, & Jimmy Heath to name a few.

 

 

Enjoy dinner, cocktails and some midweek swingin’ jazz every Wednesday!

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8:00 pm

Free

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Oct
26

BLU Jazz Jam w/ Theron Brown Bring your horn and come be part of Akron's jazz history in the making! Hosted by fan-favorite pianist, Theron Brown, and his trio - presented by the BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF).

Thursday, October 26



Akron-based jazz pianist, Theron Brown, is a frequent performer and jam session bandleader at BLU Jazz+. Influenced at a young age by Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, & Art Tatum, Brown has played with musicians such as Dan Wilson, Sean Jones, The Huntertones (formerly DW6), The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Bad Plus Band, Chris Coles, The Sam Blakeslee Large Ensemble, Javon Jackson, Snarky Puppy, Donny McCaslin, Peter White, Walter Beasley, Christian McBride, Ken Peplowski, Gary Smulyan, The Admirables, University of Akron Ensembles, Nathan Davis, and Bobby Selvaggio.

 

Theron has played at venues and events such as: The Lincoln Theater (Columbus, Ohio), Small’s Jazz Club (New York, New York), The Montreal Jazz Festival (Montreal, Canada), The Tri-C Jazz Festival (Cleveland, Ohio), The Toronto Jazz Festival (Toronto, Canada), The Blue Plum Jazz Festival (Johnson City, Tennessee), BLU Jazz+ (Akron, Ohio), Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, Palace de Arts (Montreal, Canada), Sapporo Concert Hall (Sapporo, Japan), Olympus Hall Hachiouji, Tokyo Kokusai Forum Hall C, (Tokyo, Japan), Sun Plaza Hall (Sendai, Japan), Ishikawa Kenritsu Ongakudo (Kanazawa, Japan), and Izumi No Mori Hall (Urayasu, Japan).

 

In 2014, Theron came across an amazing opportunity, when he was encouraged by family and friends; he auditioned for and was cast as young Herbie Hancock in the soon to be released film, Miles Ahead, directed by and starring Don Cheadle. The film is an intimate look into the life of jazz artist, Miles Davis, and was released in April 2016.

 

The BLU Jazz Jam is for musicians and music lovers alike! Come hang, have a drink (if you’re of age), and experience this exciting forum for musical expression. Bring your “axe” and play through tunes, pick up licks, trade 4’s, and enjoy the camaraderie of having a gathering place for the area’s finest professional jazz musicians (as well as the up-and-comers)!

[read more]

8:00 pm

Free (donations accepted for BJMF)

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Oct
27

Pharez Whitted Legendary trumpeter and patriarch of the Chicago jazz scene breezes into the Rubber City for a special BLU debut with an all-star band! Featuring Pharez Whitted, Eddie Bayard, Lovell Bradford, Jonathan Wood, Xazavian Valladay, Dionne Custer Edwards.

Friday, October 27



There are many moments that can define a man’s life and for Pharez Whitted, this is one of them. He’s taken on the new role as Chicago’s Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) Jazz Director and Howard Reich at the Chicago Tribune described Pharez perfectly – “Few Chicago musician-educators are more qualified than Whitted to build the new band, for he commands a richly deserved reputation as a trumpet virtuoso, seasoned educator and irrepressible champion of the music.”

 

Whitted is humble with his legacy and his deep roots in music go as far back as the 1930’s in Indianapolis where the Hampton Family Band first began performing. His mother, Virtue, his uncle, Slide Hampton, and the other 10 siblings (12 in total) laid the foundation with their self-educated and courageous father, Clarke “Deacon” Hampton at the helm. With that level of determination and talent, Whitted was destined to inherit the gift of music.

 

 

He began his career in 1982 not long after earning his Master’s Degree at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He’s been on staff at Chicago State University, The Ohio State University and Wabash College. He recorded his first self-entitled album, ‘Pharez Whitted’ with Motown in 1994 and continued recording solo albums ever since. He’s performed with Nancy Wilson, Freddie Hubbard, Slide Hampton, John Mellencamp, Chaka Khan, Ahmad Jamal, George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Elvin Jones, Branford Marsalis and Meshell Ndegeocello to name a few. He is currently a clinician Jazz at Lincoln Center youth outreach program, he’s a staple at Rivinia’s Jazz Scholar program in Chicago and his newest role at CYSO to help find its identity and sound while bringing new faces to the young jazz scene of Chicago.

 

Don’t miss this legendary jazz artist’s BLU debut, get your tickets today! Featuring Eddie Bayard (sax), Lovell Bradford (piano/keys), Jonathan Wood (bass), Xazavian Valladay (drums), Dionne Custer Edwards (poet).

[read more]

8:00 pm

$20 (advance), $25 (door)

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Oct
27

Late Night Jazz Jam w/ Michael Ode Up-and-coming jazz drummer, composer, and graduate of the 2016 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program hosts special late night summertime jam session - bring your horn & join in the fun!

Friday, October 27



The Late Night Jazz Jam is for musicians and music lovers alike, and will begin right after the Pharez Whitted show! Come hang, have a drink (if you’re of age), and experience this exciting forum for musical expression. Bring your “axe” and play through tunes, pick up licks, trade 4’s, and enjoy the camaraderie of having a gathering place for the area’s finest professional jazz musicians (as well as the up-and-comers)!

 

Bandleader & drummer Michael Ode was born in Philadelphia, PA, but spent most of his life in Durham, NC. He was first introduced to music at an early age in church watching the praise team and choir every Sunday and Wednesday. After seeing his interest in music at an early age, his father decided to get him a toy drum set at age 4. He developed his skills throughout high school by participating in the school marching band, jazz ensemble, orchestra, and wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, and drum line.

 

After honing his skills on the instrument in his senior year of high school, he received a music scholarship to study at Oberlin Conservatory. He is now entering his 4th year at Oberlin Conservatory, studying with the legendary Billy Hart.

 

Michael is a graduate of the 2016 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program, and has been chosen as an Honorary Jazz Mentor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop for the years 2016 & 2017. Having played alongside Billy Hart, Wallace Roney Sr, Javon Jackson, Les McCan, Gary Bartz, John Clayton, Peter Bernstein, Eddie Daniels, Christian Dashiell, Cyrus Chestnut, Sullivan Fortner, JD Allen, Gerald Clayton, Mike Lee, Dave Finucane, Al Strong, Jim Ketch, Ernest Turner, Lynn Grissett, Theron Brown and Dan Wilson, he has been very blessed to learn from some great masters and icons of american classical music (“jazz”).

 

Michael strives to stay as honest with his original music as possible, often writing songs for specific political and social issues that exist here in the United States and across the world at large. Michael is in the process of releasing his first album as a bandleader this winter and has just released an E.P. with the band “Eno” in July.

 

Catch this energetic and fast-rising young jazz talent as he leads a special late night edition of our BLU Jazz Jam – jazz musicians & casual listeners alike are welcome!

[read more]

11:00 pm

Free

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Oct
28

Soul Understated featuring Mavis “Swan” Poole Jazz, R&B, gospel and funk collide with soul-stirring harmonies, rhythms and danceable grooves as the renowned NYC powerhouse lead by Jeremy 'Bean' Clemons & Mavis 'Swan' Poole makes their return to BLU!

Saturday, October 28



Brooklyn, New York’s “Soul Understated” is among the most dynamically talented discoveries in music since the Motown era and is the result of combining the matchless and unique genius of melodic drummer, Jeremy ‘Bean’ Clemons, with the sultry, sassy and incomparable sounds of songbird, Mavis ‘Swan’ Poole.

 

The brilliance of their sound lies in the combination of talented all-star musicians which make up the band. With musical sensibilities that include jazz, soul, funk, gospel, and hip hop, the influences on their sound are as varied and timeless as the music they create. The final product embodies the rich melodies of Earth, Wind & Fire; the enchanting tones of Ella Fitzgerald; the down-deep soul of Donny Hathaway; and the exhilarating swing of Count Basie, with a hint of hip hop all infused into one harmonious body. Anyone who seeks bona fide musicianship is sure to find something that pleases the musical appetite.

 

 

In 2008, after many years of performing with various musicians, St. Louis native Jeremy ‘Bean’ Clemons and North Carolina’s finest, Mavis ‘Swan’ Poole, created Soul Understated. Since then, they have appeared at venues across the US, toured Russia, and collaborated with artists such as Nicholas Payton, Marc Cary, DJ Mikeflo, and Brian Jackson. Ms. Poole has sung with Prince, Lauren Hill, and appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

 

Join us at BLU for this very special night as we present this energetic, soul-driven lineup in a don’t-miss live performance in the Rubber City – get your tickets today!

[read more]

8:00 pm

$15 / $20



Oct
31

FunkyardX Halloween Party Calling all zombies, witches, vampires, and ghosts! Following their recent sold-out appearance at BLU Jazz+, the Funkyard Experiment brings their soul-laced, groove-heavy funk, pop, rock, jazz & gospel sound back to BLU in a very special Halloween party not to be missed! Featuring Steve Johnson, Leon Turner, Larry Galloway, Jeremiah Napier, Chris George, John Turner, Willie McMillon, Matt Segal, Daniel Spearman, Richard Smith.

Tuesday, October 31



In the 70s and early 80s, funk, rock and pop dominated most dance floors. From artists like James Brown, Jimmy Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Roger & Zapp, Earth Wind & Fire, P Funk, Rick James to the Brothers Johnson; these artists inspired generation after generation.

 

 

The Funkyard Experiment emerged in 2013 by founder Steve Johnson. Creatively inspired by these pioneers, adding a twist of gospel, jazz and fusion, the Funkyard sought to create its own unique sound. The band’s musical performances are soul laced and loaded with head nodding funky rhythms powered with massive energy drawn from rock influences. This combination has dazzled every audience that has witnessed their musical wizardry.

 

The Funkyard Experiment is made up of nine musicians–analog synth players Steve Johnson and Leon Turner, drummer Johnny Blaze Turner, lead guitarist Chris George, bassist Jeremiah Napier, vocalist & rhodes player Willie McMillon III, trumpeter Daniel Spearman, saxophonist Matt Segall, and trombonist Larry Galloway.

 

The electrifying band is based in Cleveland, OH, the home of Bone, Thugs & Harmony, the legendary O’Jays, Levert, Avant, and the Rude Boys.

 

In the band’s short time together, they have accumulated an ever growing fan base and have graced the stage with all time greats such as Angie Stone, Boney James and Gerald Albright.

 

This year, the Funkyard seeks to drop its first single, continue in the expansion of its fan base and grace numerous new stages with its undeniable one in a million talent!

 

Join us as we welcome this high-energy, funkified unit back to BLU for a not-to-miss Halloween party that will make you want to move – get your tickets now before they’re gone!

[read more]

8:00 pm

$15 (advance), $20 (door)

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Nov
9

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra: “Vanessa Rubin Sings!” International recording star & NE Ohio native, Vanessa Rubin, pays centennial tribute to a remarkable quartet born in 1917: Northeast Ohio's own Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk & Ella Fitzgerald in our special concert series with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra!

Thursday, November 9



International recording star & NE Ohio native, Vanessa Rubin, pays centennial tribute to a remarkable quartet born in 1917: Northeast Ohio’s own Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk & Ella Fitzgerald in our special concert series with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra!

 

For 32 years, The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra has been Northeast Ohio’s premier jazz voice. Led by trombonist, composer & arranger, Paul Ferguson, the CJO promotes jazz in its historical and contemporary forms, through concerts with gifted jazz musicians, arrangers, composers and educators in northeast Ohio. The CJO aims for worldwide recognition in cooperation with guest artists, and looks to shepherd young musicians toward the future of jazz. This season exemplifies this mission and vision through a variety of new music, new compositions and arrangements, and a stellar line-up of well-known guest artists and young up-and-coming talent.

 

Join us as the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra makes their return appearance to BLU Jazz+ with very special guest, Vanessa Rubin – get your tickets now!

[read more]

8:00 pm

$25 (advance), $30 (door)

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Nov
10

Manuel Valera Grammy® nominated Cuban pianist & composer (Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch) brings his own high-energy modern jazz trio to BLU by way of New York City for a special two-night residency!

Friday, November 10



Based in New York City, Grammy nominated artist, pianist and composer Manuel Valera was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. Since arriving in NYC, he has become well known in the NYC modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artist as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jeff “Tain” Watts, John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm, Yosvany Terry among many others.

 

 

Valera is also the leader of his working band Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express, a project deeply influenced by the experiments of Cuban artists from the 70s and 80s. While inspired by artists Irakere, Emiliano Salvador and AfroCuba, this touring band creates a unique and distinctive style that mixes elements of Jazz, R&B, fusion and funk with Cuban music styles. Expectativas (MAVO 2013) is the follow up and seventh recording as a leader to his 2013 Grammy nominated New Cuban Express (MAVO 2012) which was up for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year.

 

His critically acclaimed debut CD in 2004 Forma Nueva (MAVO) features John Patitucci, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake. Historia (Fresh Sounds New Talent 2005), a jazz quartet with Antonio Sanchez, Seamus Blake and Ben Street. His third release Melancolia (MAVO 2006)—employs a string quartet incorporating world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom. Vientos (Anzic 2007), representing a new working quartet, features bassist James Genus, drummer Ernesto Simpson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and a woodwind quartet. His fifth and trio recording Currents (MaxJazz 2009) features Ernesto Simpson and James Genus.

 

In addition, he has been awarded several grants for composition most notably Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Manuel has travelled the world performing in over 30 countries at some of the biggest international venues and festivals.

 

Don’t miss your chance to hear this critically-acclaimed artist in a very special weekend at BLU – get your tickets today!

[read more]

8:00 pm

$20 / $25 ($10 student w/ ID at door)

Buy Tickets


Nov
11

Manuel Valera Grammy® nominated Cuban pianist & composer (Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch) brings his own high-energy modern jazz trio to BLU by way of New York City to conclude his two-night residency with a special masterclass (6PM, FREE) before the show! Presented by the BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation.
Masterclass + Concert

Saturday, November 11



Based in New York City, Grammy nominated artist, pianist and composer Manuel Valera was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. Since arriving in NYC, he has become well known in the NYC modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artist as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jeff “Tain” Watts, John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm, Yosvany Terry among many others.

 

 

Valera is also the leader of his working band Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express, a project deeply influenced by the experiments of Cuban artists from the 70s and 80s. While inspired by artists Irakere, Emiliano Salvador and AfroCuba, this touring band creates a unique and distinctive style that mixes elements of Jazz, R&B, fusion and funk with Cuban music styles. Expectativas (MAVO 2013) is the follow up and seventh recording as a leader to his 2013 Grammy nominated New Cuban Express (MAVO 2012) which was up for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year.

 

His critically acclaimed debut CD in 2004 Forma Nueva (MAVO) features John Patitucci, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake. Historia (Fresh Sounds New Talent 2005), a jazz quartet with Antonio Sanchez, Seamus Blake and Ben Street. His third release Melancolia (MAVO 2006)—employs a string quartet incorporating world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom. Vientos (Anzic 2007), representing a new working quartet, features bassist James Genus, drummer Ernesto Simpson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and a woodwind quartet. His fifth and trio recording Currents (MaxJazz 2009) features Ernesto Simpson and James Genus.

 

In addition, he has been awarded several grants for composition most notably Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Manuel has travelled the world performing in over 30 countries at some of the biggest international venues and festivals.

 

Don’t miss your chance to hear this critically-acclaimed artist in a very special weekend at BLU – get your tickets today!

[read more]

6:00 pm, 8:00 pm

$20 / $25 ($10 student w/ ID at door)

Buy Tickets


Nov
17

Dave Stryker Internationally-acclaimed jazz guitarist, composer & recording artist (Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, Steve Slagle) makes his BLU debut in a special late night show! Co-presented by Youngstown State University Jazz Guitar Studio.

Friday, November 17



Whether you’ve heard guitarist Dave Stryker leading his own group (with 28 CD’s as a leader to date), co-leading The Stryker/Slagle Band, or as a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and many others, you know why the Village Voice calls him “one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.”

 

Dave’s new CD “Strykin’ Ahead” features the same lineup as “Eight Track II”- Steve Nelson, Jared Gold and McClenty Hunter, and is getting great reviews. “Messin’ with Mister T”, is a celebration of the man he worked with for over a decade — Stanley Turrentine, “Mister T” — with ten of the greatest tenor sax players on the scene today. It went to #1 on JazzWeek Radio and stayed in the Top 50 for 20 weeks and has received great reviews including 4 1/2 stars in Downbeat magazine. Dave’s last CD “Eight Track” was #9 for 2014 on the Jazz Week Radio Charts where it stayed for 20 weeks topping off at #3 for 3 weeks. Downbeat magazine picked it as one of the Top CD’s of 2014, and ran a feature article in the June 2014 issue on Dave. Dave was recently voted into the 2017 Downbeat Critics and Readers Poll for the 10th time.

 

 

Dave Stryker grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and moved to New York City in 1980. After establishing himself in the local music scene, he joined organist Jack McDuff’s group for two years 1984-85. When McDuff wasn’t on the road (literally traveling by van all over the country) they worked a steady four-night a week gig at Dude’s Lounge in Harlem. His first break, this turned out to be an invaluable experience, paying his dues night after night with the soulful jazz organist. It was at Dude’s Lounge that Stryker met tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, who would occasionally sit in. After leaving McDuff, Turrentine asked Stryker to join his quintet. From 1986-1995 he played with the legendary saxophonist at all the major festivals, concert halls, and clubs throughout the world. He is featured on two Turrentine CD’s (Stanley recorded Stryker’s tune “Sidesteppin”). With Turrentine, Stryker was able to play with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard. The ten years playing alongside the tenor legend helped Stryker realize the importance of having his own sound. Dave continued to work with Stanley and was with him during his final week at the Blue Note in NYC, when he passed in Sept. 2000.

 

Early on Stryker realized that as much as he loved playing standards and the jazz repertoire he had to have something of his own to give to the music. He feels that his writing combined with his playing is what shapes his musical expression. He has recorded and published over 150 of his own compositions and has released “The Dave Stryker Songbook” with most of his original music. Also 18 of the compositions (from the first five SteepleChase CD’s) are compiled in the book: “The Music of Dave Stryker” (SteepleChase Music) which can be ordered on this website.

 

Some of the other artists who have recorded Dave’s music are: Stanley Turrentine, Kevin Mahogany, Victor Lewis, and Steve Slagle. Dave continues to perform with The Dave Stryker Organ Trio, his Blue to the Bone Band, and The Stryker/Slagle Band. Recent gigs for The Stryker/Slagle Band have included a recent week at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Monterey Jazz Festival, The Blue Note in Las Vegas, The Jazz Bakery in LA, and a 2003 tour of Japan.

 

Sideman work has included vocalist Kevin Mahogany’s group, with Dave writing and arranging music for Kevin’s Telarc release “Pride and Joy” and “Another Time, Another Place” on Warner Bros and tours of Europe, Japan, Brazil, Poland and Carnegie Hall. He also has worked with Blue Note saxophonist Javon Jackson and pianist Eliane Elias. He has appeared on over 50 CD’s as a sideman. As a producer, Stryker compiled the CD “The Guitar Artistry of Billy Rogers” which is the only existing record of the brilliant jazz playing of the late underground legend who was his friend, former teacher and member of the Crusaders. He has also produced “A Tribute to Grant Green” on Evidence Music.

 

Dave is the Adjunct Professor of Jazz guitar at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. He is passing along his experience by teaching privately and at The Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, and The Litchfield Jazz Camp. His book “Dave Stryker’s Jazz Guitar Improvisation Method” (Mel Bay Publishing) is available here on his website at www.davestryker.com.

[read more]

11:00 pm

Free

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BLU Jazz+ was named one of the "Best Jazz Venues in the World" by DownBeat Magazine (2016, 2017)*
   
 
Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.
   
 

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