5 Reasons To Visit the Caramoor Jazz Festival

The Music Room at the Rosen House, one of the many venues at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, home of the fifth annual Caramoor Jazz Festival. (Photo: © Chansoda Roeun)

The Caramoor Jazz Festival in Katonah, New York, is a highlight of the summer jazz season, an event that brings together phenomenal international jazz talent with lush gardens, historic venues and fine dining on 90 acres of idyllic grounds and courtyards. Celebrating its fifth year in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, this year’s fest, which is set for July 20, offers a daylong series of performances featuring artists like Willie Jones III, Marquis Hill, Brianna Thomas & Danny Mixon, Lakecia Benjamin and festival favorite Etienne Charles. And that’s just the start. The whole day leads up to the evening headliner — which this year is 10-time Grammy Award-winner Eddie Palmieri, one of the finest pianists of the past 60 years and a recognized American musical icon. Need an excuse to visit the Hudson Valley this July? Here are five reasons to get your tickets now.

1. Architectural delights abound

Rooms in the Rosen House at Caramoor in Katonah New York (Photo by Gabe Palacio)

The centerpiece of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts nearly 100-acre estate is the Rosen House, a Mediterranean-style villa built during the period between 1929 and 1939 by Walter Rosen, a Berlin-born, Harvard-educated international banker specializing in railroads, and Lucie Bigelow Dodge Rosen, a highly spirited, arts-adoring member of a prominent New York City family. For art and design aficionados, the house offers a number of treasures, including complete 18th-century rooms originally from private villas and chateaux in Italy, France and England: The Burgundian Library is a French 17th-century, paneled room with a blue groin-vaulted ceiling, while the Music Room features an exquisite 16th-century painted Spanish ceiling. It’s all available for viewing during your time at the Caramoor Jazz Festival. Book a tour or an afternoon tea here.  

2. A venue for every jazz mood

Man About a Horse performs on the Sunken Garden stage during the American Roots Music Festival at Caramoor in Katonah New York on June 25, 2016. (Photo by Gabe Palacio)

At Caramoor, jazz isn’t confined to a single space. The music overflows across the site’s numerous venues, all of them carrying unique sonic qualities. The Venetian Theater, which serves as the focal point of the jazz festival, is a fully covered outdoor performance space ringed on three sides by green and leafy vistas, providing a bucolic setting for live music, while the Spanish Courtyard, which occupies the center of the Rosen House, is an intimate, partially covered outdoor venue designed in the Mediterranean style. Also in the Rosen House, the Music Room is an intimate setting decorated with Renaissance furniture, Gothic tapestries and stained glass windows. During the jazz festival, concerts also take place in the Sunken Gardens, a beautiful outdoor spot perfect for acoustic performances, and Friends Field, a sprawling outdoor lawn where guests can enjoy a picnic or a glass of wine as they take in the day’s music.

3. Fine dining: on site and in town

Afternoon tea in the Summer Dining Room of the Rosen House at Caramoor in Katonah New York on September 10, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Palacio)

Caramoor’s onsite food purveyor, Food + Drink, offers a variety of delicious, organic, and locally-sourced snacks and beverages provided by New York catering company Great Performances. Jazz festival attendees can also stop by the Katchkie Food Truck for the renowned Caramoor Burger and Treble Dog. At the Tap Tent, they’ll find a wide range of snacks, plus water, soda, local wine and beer, and coffee and tea. For a real splurge, attendees can let the festival pack a picnic for them by choosing from among Caramoor’s many picnic options, including roast chicken, oil-poached char, roast petite beef filet and eggplant chermoula. But the surrounding towns of Katonah, Mount Kisco and Bedford also offer plenty of dining options, ranging from farm-to-table cafes serving local dishes to fine-dining establishments specializing in French and Italian cuisine.

4. A day’s worth of music … brought to you by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Etienne Charles will perform with his band Creole Soul at the Caramoor Jazz Festival
on July 20 (Photo: Courtesy the artist)

For the past five years, the Caramoor Jazz Festival has been collaborating with New York tastemakers Jazz at Lincoln Center to curate their daylong program. This year’s lineup celebrates the best of what the New York jazz scene has to offer. Among the many highlights: Trumpeter Etienne Charles will bring his Caribbean-flavored jazz band Creole Soul to the mix, and drummer Cedric Easton will lead a tribute to jazz icon Art Blakey, who this year would have turned 100 years old. Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin will honor the music of John Coltrane with her quartet, and drummer Willie Jones III will celebrate the music of the late Roy Hargrove. Performances are still being announced, but you can rest assured that in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s hands, the program will make an exquisite soundtrack to a day of wandering through gardens and greenery.

5. The late-night party with Eddie Palmieri

Eddie Palmieri will headline the evening concert at the Caramoor Jazz Festival. (Photo: Erik Valind)

At Caramoor, the party doesn’t stop once the sun goes down. The capstone of the festival’s programming is the evening concert, which takes place in the luxurious outdoor Venetian Theater at 8 p.m. This year’s evening headliner is Eddie Palmieri, who will appear with his legendary Salsa Orchestra. Known as one of the finest pianists of the past 60 years, Palmieri is a pioneer in Latin jazz whose playing skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican ancestry with the melodies and harmonies of modern jazz. The Bronx-born pianist will turn 83 this year, yet he continues to churn out great music, including last year’s critically acclaimed album Mi Luz Mayor. For his performance at Caramoor, expect him to draw from his most recent album in addition to selections from across his five-decade discography. Nobody throws a jazz party like Eddie.

To purchase tickets for the Caramoor Jazz Festival, and a for a complete artist lineup, click here

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