deer isle jazz FESTIVAL 

"When I first discovered this island more than 25 years ago, I sensed it right away: There’s jazz in these hills. It has found a home in our festival."— Larry Blumenfeld

Past visiting artists include legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb, NEA Jazz Master pianists Kenny Barron and Randy Weston, saxophonists Charles Lloyd and Dewey Redman, singers Luciana Souza and Andy Bey; French horn player Vincent Chauncey; free-jazz heroes bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp; Latin jazz innovator Arturo O'Farrill; and Emmet Cohen, 2019 winner of the prestigious Cole Porter Fellowship.


“Stonington is a perfectly natural setting for jazz,” Alicia Anstead wrote in the Bangor Daily News. “Far out on the town dock, the music coming from the Opera House slipped and slid through the air.”


In addition to bringing national stars to Deer Isle, the festival has established deep community ties, involving ongoing collaborations with local schools and arts organizations including many of the award-winning GSA jazz bands.

19th annual deer isle jazz festival

curated by music critic & journalist

larry blumenfeld



“Ortiz-Byron duets range from recognizable jazz and classical shapes to beautiful, original forms with only a nodding relationship to conventional jazz. At different points, this music can be ominous, gentle, familiar or alien but it is always intriguing.”

—Jerome Wilson, All About Jazz


This synergetic duo features clarinetist and saxophonist Don Byron and pianist Aruán Ortiz, gifted composers who have been playing together since 2014. Byron, born in The Bronx to a musical family of Antiguan descent, is one of the most wide-ranging reed players and composers in modern music. Some of his work has involved highly refined repertory ensembles devoted to early jazz, gospel, or klezmer music. Other works assert unfettered new musical routes owing to no one style. Ortiz, born in Santiago, Cuba, is among the most creative pianists in jazz today, incorporating influences from contemporary classical music, Cuban Haitian rhythms, and avant-garde improvisation. Aruán consistently strives to break stylistic musical boundaries. In Byron, Ortiz has found an unparalleled clarinetist, whose classical training and exquisite technique anchor a career spanning an unusually broad range of music. Join these two jazz luminaries for a captivating night of masterful music.



featuring Jimmy Cobb on drums & David Wong on bass



“Cohen’s playing springs from tradition. Favoring swinging phrasing and

concise melodic arcs colored by rich harmonic vocabulary, the tasteful pianist never lets his nimble,

cleanly articulated technique overflow into clutter. His music’s uplifting attitude is frequently colored with wit.”

— Jeff Potter, Downbeat


Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen has emerged as one of his generation's pivotal figures in music. Possessing a fluid technique, an innovative tonal palette, and an extensive repertoire, Cohen plays with the command of a seasoned veteran and the passion of an artist fully devoted to his medium. His Masters Legacy Series, a celebratory set of recordings and interviews, provides master musicians of multiple generations a forum to transfer the unwritten folklore that is America's unique musical idiom. Cohen believes playing jazz is "about communicating the deepest levels of humanity and individuality; it's essentially about connections," both among musicians and with audiences. Join this dynamic trio for a night of virtuosic delight and swinging sound.


© 2019 by Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House

207.367.2788 |

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