Home Community Jazz fest delights on day 1; big Sunday yet to come

Jazz fest delights on day 1; big Sunday yet to come


It might have been the perfect day for music lovers.

The temperatures were cool and so was the music.

Hundreds came out on Saturday for the opening day of Fox Jazz Fest at Menasha’s Jefferson Park. The two-day festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary of bringing free, world-class jazz music to the community.

Mike Dorsey of Oshkosh makes the festival part of his Labor Day weekend every year. 

“They just get some great talent in here,” he said, while browsing records at a vendor booth between acts.

The festival has helped Dorsey expand. He said there are artists every year he hasn’t heard before, though he has utmost trust that the curators will assemble an amazing lineup.

Each of this year’s performers have Wisconsin roots.

Saturday’s performances included jazz violinist Randy Sabien and Grammy Award winning trumpeter Brian Lynch.

Lynch’s headlining set came at 5:15 p.m., though performers moved from the park to Appleton’s Gibson Music Hall after dark for a jam session.

Events opened in customary fashion — with young musicians showing their talents. Oshkosh’s Webster Stanley Middle School Jazz Band opened the festival at noon and was followed by the Neenah High School Jazz Band.

Josh Frank, a Neenah junior and pianist in the band, took in following acts with friends. He appreciated the large audience — both for his band and for the festival in general. 

“It’s amazing that we have a community that supports an event like this,” he said.

Sunday’s lineup includes the Buchman/Robinson Quintet, keyboardist Dan Trudell, bassist Ike Sturm and a Fox Valley favorite in vocalist Janet Planet.

The day will begin with a jazz clinic. The music starts at noon with the St. Mary’s Middle School  Jazz Ensemble followed by the Weyauwega-Fremont Jazz Band.

Dorsey said the scholastic bands are one of his favorite parts of the festival each year.

“It’s encouraging to hear the quality,” Dorsey said. “It’s a great indication of the positive direction the music is heading.”