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EDGEFEST 25 2021: Celebrating 25 Years at the Edge

October 28, 2021 - October 30, 2021

edgefest 26 breathing free

EDGEFEST 2021: Celebrating 25 Years at the Edge (October 28 – October 30, 2021) is the 25th anniversary of the world-renowned avant-garde jazz and creative new music festival hosted by Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This year’s Edgefest will be a celebration of this unique festival as a defining event in our creative jazz community. Edgefest 2021 will draw upon some of the most noteworthy artists of the festival’s history, while continuing to chart new directions for the festival in the years to come.

Events will include ticketed concerts on Thursday and Friday evening, as well as Saturday all day and evening. These concerts will feature composer-led and collaborative ensembles of international stature, including many of the artists who have given Edgefest memorable moments over the past 25 years. Additionally, Edgefest 25 will highlight unique collaborations between visiting artists and artists/composers who live and work in SE Michigan. Edgefest concerts will take place in KCH’s intimate concert hall and at the Bethlehem United Church of Christ just down the street from KCH.

Edgefest 25 will engage our community with an artistic experience that expands their musical, cultural, intellectual, and worldviews of art music. Edgefest is the only festival in our area dedicated to presenting the very best groundbreaking artists and composers in today’s world of avant-garde jazz and creative improvised/composed music, increasing community exposure to this unique art music. Innovation: One of the most vital and innovative forms of artistic expression in our country today, avant-garde jazz and creative improvised/composed music does not fit into pre-defined genres (i.e. jazz, rock, blues, classical, folk, etc); indeed it often blends these styles into something new and different. As a result, this music regularly receives less critical and popular attention than other forms because of these decidedly non-commercial aspects, and is rarely heard outside of a few large cultural centers such as New York or Chicago.

Edgefest 2021 will celebrate the festival by reviewing its evolution as an important influence on the music and artistic community and renewing its commitment to continue exploring new directions and invite the community to join in the fray.

“The annual rite of fall in Michigan music…running off the beaten tracks.”

DownBeat Magazine


“There’s no doubt that if you want to hear accomplished music in an intimate space with excellent sound in the company of a respectful crowd, Edgefest is the place to be.”

John Sharpe
New York City Jazz Record


“If you’ve got an ear for adventurous music that doesn’t care much for the constraints of genre, labels or convention, then you should be in the audience for Edgefest.”

Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press

“To paraphrase the state motto of Michigan, if you seek a deeper groove, look about you.”

Lawrence Cosentino
Signal to Noise


“One of the premier national events for avant-garde and improvisational music in the world.”

Mike McGonigal
The Detroit Metro Times


“Edgefest sits squarely at the nexus of improvised music and contemporary composition, ignoring, nay obliterating, any concern of genres and boundaries…Edgefest once again cast its bright light on some of the world’s most exciting and challenging music.”

Arlene & Larry Dunn
I Care If You Listen





As has become traditional, we will offer a prequel of sorts to warm us up for Edgefest. On Friday, October 15 at 7:30 pm a group of improvisers will play at Ziggy’s in Ypsilanti outside in the back alley: Ken Kozora, cornet, Kenji Lee and Piotr Michalowski, reeds, and Kenn Thomas on keyboards, with a cameo appearance by mezzo soprano Deanna Relyea. Come and enjoy!



Presented by the UofM Center for World Performance Studies: A roundtable discussion w/ Patricia Nicholson (Vision Festival), Deanna Relyea (Edgefest), and Rainbow Robert (Vancouver International Jazz Festival). Free & Open to the Public. Registration Required: https://myumi.ch/BoGmj



7:00 PM | Michael Malis, solo piano

8:00 PM | Crump/Laubrock/Smythe – Sponsored by Keith Martin and Russ Summers

Stephan Crump, bass
Ingrid Laubrock, tenor & soprano saxophone
Cory Smythe, piano
9:00 PM | Fay Victor’s SoundNoiseFUNK– Sponsored by Keith Martin

Fay Victor, voice
Sam Newsome, soprano saxophone
Joe Morris, guitar
Reggie Nicholson, drums
Watch the livestream from Thursday evening here.


the cosmic community

Edgefest artists Andrew Bishop & Melanie Dyer will create a 2-day residency at Scarlett Middle School. The artists will collaborate with Director of Bands Caroline Fitzgerald to provide “out of the box” creative activities not part of the traditional curriculum. The students will appear at Kerrytown as they participate in the Edgefest parade at noon on Saturday. All community members are invited to participate in this unconventional and rather raucous parade that has now a long history with Edgefest!

    A live audience will be welcomed at all concert events. Vaccinations are required of all artists, audience members, and staff. 
    Most events will also be livestreamed.  Please read our full COVID-19 safety protocols below.  


    The health and safety of all remains Kerrytown Concert House’s top priority. To support a safe reopening for in-person events in our distinctive and intimate venue, and in accordance with the current advice of medical and public health experts (particularly in response to the new Delta variant of the virus), Kerrytown Concert House has updated its COVID-19 safety protocols.

    • Moving forward, all patrons and artists who wish to attend or present performances indoors at KCH must provide a valid, complete COVID-19 vaccination card OR proof of a negative COVID-19 test performed within the previous 72 hours prior to entry. Such proof must be presented at concert check-in, may be displayed on a smartphone OR presented as a physical copy, and must also be accompanied by a matching, valid ID for verification.**
    • Additionally, according to current CDC recommendations, masks are required for audiences inside the House and can only be removed when seated with a beverage (when available). When performing, artists may wear a mask, or not, at their own discretion.

    Kerrytown Concert House remains committed to providing an enjoyable, protected atmosphere for patrons of live performance, and a safe livelihood for all artists and staff. We anticipate a monthly review of this policy which may result in a relaxation of certain provisions if the science dictates. We’ll keep you informed, and we thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation while we work to make the best decisions as the COVID-19 health crisis continues to unfold.

    On behalf of the artists and audiences we serve, thank you for your continued support of Kerrytown Concert House!

    **Proof of vaccination exceptions will be made for children under 12 and people with a medical condition or closely held religious beliefs that prevent vaccination.  These guests must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours prior to entry.

      OCTOBER 30

      12:00 PM | Edgefest Parade

       Scarlett Middle School band students (Caroline Fitzgerald, Band Director) plus   Edgefest artists and community members participate in this raucous and   exciting moment in the Kerrytown downtown/Farmer’s Market area.

       2:00 PM | Matthew Shipp, solo piano  Sponsored by Alan Feller, Nimish & Niraj Ganatra, and Bonnie Patterson

       3:00 PM | Agape  Sponsored by Luis Torregrosa

       4:00 PM | Andrea Wolper’s Cento Project – Sponsored by Ken Kozora

       7:30 pm | Grand Finale Evening @ Bethlehem United Church of Christ
                           **Please note time change (previously scheduled at 7 PM).


      If “Trains Could Speak” is inspired by the ninety minute train ride from Krakow to Auschwitz concentration camp. The ride itself is through some very beautiful, peaceful countryside and farmland in south east Poland. The incongruity of my ride and the ride of those whose trip seventy years before was one of uncertainty and hopelessness prompted a multitude of thoughts and feelings as the train progressed to its destination. The journey and visit to the camp itself sparked a deeper understanding of the horrors humans are capable of and its juxtaposition to our ability to be brilliant, creative and tolerant. Delving into the choice we have in either surrendering to our baser instincts or to transcend them, feeds my own lifelong curiosity of what it means to be alive, and to know that life is fragile, dangerous and magnificent all at the same time.

      “The first time I tried to visit Auschwitz in 2007, there was no train. They had changed the track of the train that regularly departed for there. They announced the track change in Polish but not in English. There were about two very angry people yelling and screaming at the ticket sellers and railroad staff as to this oversight. Can you imagine, people yelling that they missed the train to Auschwitz and that it had ruined their day?”


      *Parking will be available at the Bethlehem United Church of Christ parking lot, or additional paid parking is available at the N 4th Ave & William St Parking Structure.



      CALL (734) 769-2999


      You may pay by credit card over the phone, by mailing a check
      to 415 N. 4th Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48104, or pay at the door.


      OR CALL (734) 769-2999.



      October 28, 2021
      October 30, 2021
      Event Category: