Colored Musicians Club celebrates 100 years of swinging

Six-day jazz festival, July 24–29, features over 150 musicians

Colored Musicians Club exterior on 145 Broadway.

Photo by kc kratt



Buffalo’s Colored Musicians Club (CMC), aka Local 533, has hosted many jazz legends, from Byrd to Monk to Miles Davis, and has been the heart and soul of Buffalo’s jazz scene for decades. This year marks its 100th, and the club is throwing a six-day celebratory jazz festival on July 24–29 (you can get your tickets here). With over 150 musicians, this is the largest jazz festival they, or anyone else, has organized in the Queen City in recent decades.  “We wanted to make a statement about Buffalo’s place on the jazz scene by expanding our annual one-day festival into a week-long, citywide celebration,” says spokesperson Alita Lee.


The M&T-sponsored festival partners with Buffalo institutions like the Albright-Knox Art Museum, Hallwalls, Buffalo Place, Larkin Square, and Pausa Art House, and gets rolling July 24 with a CMC edition of Slow Roll Buffalo through the East Side. The ride ends at the club, where George Scott’s Big Band takes the stage at 7 p.m. for the inaugural concert.


Scott Tixier

photo by Lydia Liebman Productions


The music moves to Larkin Square on July 25, when the Carol McLaughlin Combo performs at Food Truck Tuesday. Also Tuesday, jazz violinist and composer Scott Tixier performs at CMC at 7 and 9 p.m. Tixier has played for many legends, including Stevie Wonder, Cassandra Wilson, Natalie Cole, Ariana Grande, and Christina Aguilera.


On Wednesday, July 26, the festival kicks into high gear with concerts at two more venues. Buffalo Place has three shows: the Jenny May Quartet, the Ed Chilungu Trio, and the Alex McArthur Quintet; while a featured guest (TBA) will play at Pausa in Allentown. The Brotha Perry Quartet and Buffalo Afrobeat Orchestra play at Larkin Square on Wednesday evening.


On Thursday, July 27, the scene shifts to Hallwalls, where CMC’s artistic director Walter Kemp unveils the Walter Kemp 3oh! band at 8:15, followed by Blue Note recording artist the Otis Brown Trio at Babeville’s 9th Ward venue. Among his many credits, Brown is a founding member of Joe Lovano’s US Five Quintet.


Walter Kemp 3oh!


The festival returns to CMC on July 28 for “Funk-n-Soul Friday,” featuring #A2Z, powered by guitarist Arianna Powell and bassist Zuri Appleby, both Buffalo natives. Powell and Appleby were members of the Nick Jonas “Made in America” tour last year, and played the 2015 American Music Awards.


The CMC Jazzfest ends with a bang on Saturday, July 29 with a full afternoon schedule on two stages at the club. The lineup includes the Barbara Levy Daniels Quartet, Trio Payazzo, Jazzwizz (with Dennis Warne), the Les Davis Quintet, All City Jazz Band, Why Not, the Blue Note 5, Katy Miner Quintet, Greg Millar Quartet, Janice Mitchel Quartet, and George Caldwell Quartet.


The grand finale features the Baylor Project at the Albright-Knox at 8 p.m. Marcus Baylor is a Yellowjackets alumnus with multiple Grammy nominations. His wife, Jean, was the voice of the platinum recording group, Zhane.


“Back in the day, Chuck and Gap Mangione often came here from Rochester for our jazz scene. Now we have to go to Rochester to catch a week of world class jazz. We’re hoping our jazz festival  becomes a summer staple and reinvigorates the Buffalo jazz scene for decades to come,” says CMC president George Scott.


The Buffalo Colored Musicians Club and Jazz Museum is at 145 Broadway, Buffalo. The full schedule, concert tickets, and festival passes ($85–135) are available there and at Festival passes and some tickets can also be purchased at Wegman’s Supermarkets and the Albright-Knox.            


Carl Mrozek is a longtime professional videographer as well as an avid jazz enthusiast. Below, see two videos Mrozek shot at the recent Rochester Jazz Festival.




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