July 6, 2016 By Michael Florio
The Jackson Heights Jazz Festival is returning for a second year.
The festival, which launched last year, will host three performances in different venues around the neighborhood.
Last year the concert series drew large crowds and Joe Knipes, the event’s founder, is hoping to build on that momentum.
The festival will be broken up into three individual concerts, beginning with a performance by Javier Arau at the Jackson Heights Library (35-51 81st St.) on July 23 at 3 p.m. This show kicked off last year’s festivities and drew roughly 100 people.
“The room was completely filled,” Knipes said. “We know he [Arau] can draw a crowd and are excited to have him back.”
He is the only performer returning from last year.
The series continues with a show by Shu Odamura and Haruna Fukazawa at Espresso 77 (35-57 77th St.), on July 23 at 9 p.m. While the duo didn’t perform last year, Espresso 77 did host a performance in the festival that about 30 people attended. However, Knipes expects that number to grow as the café has doubled its space after expanding.
“We hope to utilize all that new space this year,” Knipes said. “There will also be people coming and going throughout the show just like last year.”
The final performance will take place the following week as Thana Alexa will perform on July 31 at 4 p.m. at the Playstreet Stage on 78th St. next to Travers Park.
“She is a great musician and singer,” Knipes said. “She is not just limited to Jackson Heights. She has a big fan base.”
A performance was held at the venue last year and had about 40 people in attendance. However, Knipes added that many filtered in and out, as well as people listening from the park.
“We had a great turnout for our inaugural year,” Knipes said. “We expect the word to spread around the neighborhood for this year.”
Knipes believes there is more significance to creating a popular jazz festival in the community now that Terraza 7 will close when its lease expires at the end of the year.
“They are one of the best jazz venues a neighborhood could ask for,” he said. “It’s sad they are closing, but it’s all the more reason for people to come out to our festival.”
Knipes hopes to expand the festival next year to include new venues.
“We could even host at venues that have never hosted a jazz show before,” he said.
The event is free to attend.