welcome jazz fans!

If this is your first time attending an It’s Commonly Jazz concert series, Welcome and where have you been for the past 31 years? Now that can sound like a long time or it can feel like we are young and just getting started with a sound foundation to support and help grow the Jazz scene in Cincinnati. I like the sound of the latter.   

So many of us spend our lives seeking for something special and don’t realize it’s right there in front of us. You know the old saying “The grass appears greener on the other side.”  Well this year my goal is to show you the current Jazz community and its amazing mosaic of talent both seasoned and filled with new faces. If I am successful, you will know the places to go for Jazz and want to support and patronize the local Jazz scene.  Each week we will feature some of the Star Jazz artists right in our own backyard and some of the venues in town that showcase Jazz not just 4 weeks but 52 weeks.  

I also am grateful to have Fifth Third Bank for over 27 years as our Presenting Sponsor. The support and encouragement to grow this event from our Music Sponsor, Cintas and now a host of additional sponsors…AARP, University of Cincinnati, Messer Construction, Cincinnati Art Museum,  and Arts Wave, A special thank you to Vernon Turner, graphic designer, Jazz Alive, and Alice Frazier with AFA Associates for their talent and expertise to bring this event together.  

I am still excited about the possibilities this concert series has for our City.  And it’s people, like yourself who gather on this beautiful and picturesque hillside every Thursday in August in Eden Park to enjoy some of the best free Jazz that the City has to offer that keeps me motivated. I am honored to have the opportunity this year to spend 31 summers listening to Jazz with such a remarkable group of folks, (especially those guys on the back row) who love the music as much as I do.  Now grab a bite to eat from backstage area and sit back and enjoy the Cincinnati Jazz scene. 


31 Years and the Best is Yet To Come…


Concert dates


August 4

31st Season Opener with William Menefield Trio

Opening Night Supported by Cincinnati Art Museum

August 11

Marc Fields Sextet with Steve Wilson

Jazz Master Night Performance Supported by AARP

August 18

Big Band Jazz Orchestra Sound with Cincinnati Contemporary

Jazz Orchestra and Vocalist Mzuri Moyo

August 25

The 31st Anniversary Grand Finale with John Zappa and Jazz Master Ignacio Berroa Berroa CuBop Quartet

Jazz Master Night Performance Supported by AARP






August 4

William Menefield TRIO

Opening Night Supported by Cincinnati Art Museum

Except for some beginning piano lessons, William Menefield is primarily a self-taught pianist. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, William began playing the piano around the age of nine, when his mother took all of the televisions out of the house. In 1996, William was fortunate enough to expand his knowledge of jazz with Erwin Stuckey during the eight months he studied with him.

William served as the pianist for the Shroder Paideia Middle School Choir from the time he was 12 years old through the end of his junior year. In 1992, William was featured as a soloist, at the Swifton “It’s Commonly Jazz” series held annually in Cincinnati and he is opening up the 2016 series as a featured jazz artist ‘off the walls’ and in the park for the Cincinnati Art Museum tonight. Tonight is an extension of the 30 Americans exhibit which offers a special art museum tour every Thursday in August starting at 3:30 PM.  William is art in motion to be watched, heard and enjoyed along with the friends he is bringing to the stage.

In 1998, William signed as a recording artist with J-Curve Records, at the age of 18. His debut album, “Big Will Leaps In”, was released in the spring of 1999 and later reached #13 on the national Gavin Jazz Chart and then followed by  “Will’s Revenge” (413 Records). He has appeared on other recordings including “The Grease” (2007), “Lift Every Voice” (Blacklisted Musik Records, 2004), “My Steps” (Black Sax Records 2003), “The Broach Approach” (Short-Bop Records, 2002), and Cincinnati Jazz Collection Volumes II & III (JCurve Records, 1999, 2000).

William was sought out by the Cincinnati Arts Association to initiate their emerging artist concert

series at the Aronoff Center for the Arts on April 10, 1999. Since then he has continued to perform at a variety of venues with several different musicians including national recording artist and performers Roy Ayers, Clark Terry, David “Fathead” Newman, Gary Bartz, John Blake, Don Braden, Steve Wilson, and Javon Jackson, and local talents including Mike Wade, Melvin Broach and a host of other accomplished musicians and artists.

William graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2005

with a Bachelor’s degree in music composition. He went on to earn his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2011 from the University of Texas at Austin in the same field.


Marc Fields SExtet with Steve Wilson

Jazz Master Night Performance Supported by AARP

Marc Fields has turned out to be one of the most soulful and lyrical jazz trombonist in the Midwest. Cincinnati born and raised, he is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Trombone Performance. Fields has gone on to become a very successful jazz/studio artist for the past thirty years. Some of the people he has played with include Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Steve Wilson, Mulgrew Miller, The Cohesion Jazz Ensemble, a six year stint with Ray Charles, the CCM Jazztet, Jimmy Heath, Pat Kelly and the Psycho Acoustic Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra under the Direction of Rob Parton. Fields currently performs with The New Marc Fields Quintet, The New Marc Fields Sextet, and Pot, Kettle, Black. He also regularly performs with the Jim Hart Quartet at the Omni Netherland Hilton in downtown Cincinnati. It has been said that Fields’ approach to jazz improvisation is usually quite spontaneous, honest, and with a genuine respect for the music.

The jazz heavy weights with the Marc Fields group performing are Michael “Maddog” Mavridoglu, trumpet; Phil Degreg, piano; Kevin McClellan, bass;  Anthony T. Lee, drums; and jazz master Steve Wilson on saxophone. Steve Wilson has attained ubiquitous status in the studio and on the stage with the greatest names in jazz, as well as critical acclaim as a bandleader in his own right. A musician's musician, Wilson has brought his distinctive sound to more than 150 recordings led by such celebrated and wide-ranging artists as Chick Corea, George Duke, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Bill Bruford, Gerald Wilson, Maria Schneider, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd, Billy Childs, Karrin Allyson, Don Byron, Christian McBride and Mulgrew Miller among many others. 


Big Band Jazz Orchestra Sound

with Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and Vocalist Mzuri Moyo

The Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (CCJO) is a 17-member ensemble dedicated to performing, preserving, and teaching Jazz as a living art form. Artistic Director Rob Parton is happy to produce this very exciting event.  Its members are some of the preeminent Jazz artists and educators in the nation, all of whom have deep ties to the greater Cincinnati music education community. The ensemble explores the works of contemporary composers as well as those of the masters of the Jazz heritage, including Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.

 The members of the CCJO have performed, toured and/or recorded with many of the top names in the jazz and commercial music industry. These include Ray Charles, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Count Basie, Manhattan Transfer, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Feinstein, Fred Hersch, Conrad Herwig, the Temptations, Arturo Sandoval, Tony Bennett, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Bootsy Collins, Clark Terry, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Glenn Miller Orchestra to name a few.

 As educators, nearly all of the ensemble members serve on the music faculties of prominent university music schools, including: Capital University in Columbus, Miami University, Northern Kentucky University, Butler University, Xavier University, the University of Dayton and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. The CCJO is led by artistic director Rob Parton, associate professor of trumpet at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.  The CCJO believes in the power of music to transform lives for the better and seeks to bring the beauty and elegance of Jazz to students and audiences alike.

Vocalist Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye has an incredible range, presence and versatility that enthusiastically receives rave reviews nationally and internationally on cabaret and concert stages.  She was born  in Paterson, New Jersey, and has lived and sang in Paris and Rome. Upon returning from Europe, she trained as an actress at HB Studio, New York City.  She performed in small productions in the NY/NJ area and was later casted as Lucy for the cultural film “SANKOFA." Ever mindful of the importance and power of culturally sensitive stories, Mzuri continued to search for material and projects in which she could invest and share her multi-talented artistic gifts. 

Mzuri wrote and performed a song and short play for the historic installment of the bust of Sojourner Truth in Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.; performed the classic healing song “Still I Rise” to the world’s Ambassadors for the United Nations 10th Year Commemoration of the Victims of 9/11 on September 9, 2011; . Lincoln Center 125th Birthday Celebration of W.C. Handy; Three Sopranos for Peace conducted by Dr. David Eaton director of the New York; The Apollo; The Memphis Melody Paris, France and Cami Hall


John Zappa and Jazz Master Ignacio Berroa

Jazz Master Night Performance Supported by AARP 

John Zappa works as a trumpeter and a drummer in a variety of styles with a variety of ensembles. His is a full time Lecturer of Jazz Trumpet and Theory at Northern Kentucky University, where he teaches trumpet, Jazz Theory, Arranging, Jazz History and Jazz Appreciation. John performs regularly with his trio, Tony’s Hitmen, The Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, The Blue Wisp Big Band and the award winning salsa band Tropicoso. His album “Not Too Slow, Not Too Fast...” released in 2012, features John’s compositions in a trio setting and was well received by national critic, Scott Yanow. After it’s inclusion in the movie, “A Man, A Woman, and a Maybe” John received the “Best Music” award at the Southern Ohio Film Association Winter Film Festival.

John’s other professional credits include concert orchestras and pit orchestras; recording for various album projects which include the Grammy nominated “When Bullfrogs Croak” by Zach Morgan and “We Want the Funk” by Bootsy Collins for the movie “Undercover Brother.” He also records jingles, video game music, theme park and cruise ship shows. John has written, produced and recorded music for other artists, both jazz and pop; and for t.v. and film.

Jazz Master Drummer, Ignacio Berroa will sit in and play with John along with the CuBop Quartet. Ignacio has been recognized as one of the greatest drummers of our times. He was included in the 2011 Mp3 compilation entitled “Jazz Drumming Legends” which features some of the most renowned drummers in Jazz history.

He was born in Havana Cuba and began his musical education at age 11 at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana’s National Conservatory, beginning his professional career in 1970. By 1975 Ignacio had become Cuba’s most sought after drummer.

In 1980 he left his country during the Mariel boatlift and settled in New York City where he met the great Cuban musician Mario Bauza who introduced him to Dizzy Gillespie. In August 1981 Gillespie invited Ignacio to join his quartet.

Ignacio Berroa also took part of all the important bands Gillespie assembled during that decade such as: The Dizzy Gillespie 70th Anniversary Big Band, The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars Big Band and the Grammy Award winner, United Nation Orchestra. This relation lasted until Dizzy’s death.

Jazz Legend Dizzy Gillespie best defined Ignacio as: “… the only Latin drummer in the world in the history of American music that intimately knows both worlds: his native Afro Cuban music as well as Jazz…”As an author and a renowned educator he made his mark with the instructional video: Mastering the Art of Afro–Cuban Drumming as well as the books: Groovin’ in Clave and A New Way of Groovin’. He also conducts clinics and master classes around the world.

As a leader, his album“ Codes” was released in 2007 under Blue Note Records. In 2007 Codes was Grammy nominated, winning a Danish Music Award as best International Jazz Album. His second album as a leader “Heritage & Passion” was released in 2014 under 5Passion. Ignacio has recorded and played with musicians of the stature of: McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, Jackie McLean, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton, Michael Brecker, Milt Jackson, Jaco Pastorius, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Tito Puente, Mario Bauzá, Lalo Schifrin, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Perez, David Sanchez, Michel Camilo, Chico Bouarque, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco, Lenny Andrade, Lincoln Center Orchestra, WDR Big Band and BBC Big Band to name a few.



What started off as a weekly music event in the courtyards of Swifton Commons Mall during the months of July and August in 1985 has become the City’s longest running free summer concert series now in its 31st year.


The key to the longevity of this event is a combination of having the continued support of Fifth Third Bank as the Presenting Sponsor for over 27 years, the quality of the artists on the line-up and the loyal patrons who consider this event a rite of summer. The concerts have been recognized as The Best Shopping Center Promotion, The Second Day Issue location for Louis Armstrong Stamp and the stage platform for over 200 Jazz Legends, Grammy Award Winning Artists, and Jazz Masters on both a national and local level. In the past two years, the names of those artists have been incorporated in the promotional Artwork which is a collectable.  It is common to see patrons wearing t-shirts and carrying handheld fans from 25 years ago. One of the founders, Carolyn Wallace, and now promoter for It’s Commonly Jazz, says the most important part of this venue is the people who attend.  The patrons are loyal, sophisticated and knowledgeable about Jazz.  They come in all sizes, ages, races, and income levels.  Their common denominator is that they love Jazz and they come to listen and end up meeting and making new friends with people, who share their interest in Jazz.


In 2008 It’s Commonly Jazz went green and moved to Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park; one of the most recognizable and popular of the Cincinnati Parks. This beautiful park is home to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Krohn Conservatory. The event took on a sustainable approach to their marketing by encouraging carpooling, using public transportation, having dual use for the collateral and teaching patrons during the intermission ways to live in a sustainable way with health, financial and recycling tips. The Jazz remains the focal part of this event and the artists legendary!


It’s Commonly Jazz is sitting on a sound foundation that’s young and just getting ready to take off.  Join us and become a part of something that has made summers in Cincinnati a special place to be for Jazz on Thursday Nights.


31 Years and the Best is Yet To Come…