In The Beginning

As Told by Steve Grismore: The actual conception for the Iowa City Jazz Festival took place on a sunny spring day in 1991. I was standing in front of Ginsberg Jewelers visiting with Mark Ginsberg when he looked at me and said " Steve, lets start a jazz festival." Of course, not knowing if Mark was serious and unwilling to take the chance that he wasn't, I immediately said, "Ok, I'll take care of booking the bands and getting the sound system, etc.,..and you raise the money.

The first year the festival was called "The Washington Street Jazz Festival" for the obvious reason of location. But the second year we changed the name to "The Iowa City Jazz Festival" and it has remained that ever since.

Christian McBride

The City of Iowa City has been very helpful over the years and letting us shut the streets down for our first festival was a big deal at the time. The jazz festival was a one day affair for the first four years and always held on July 4th. The first two years of the festival attendance was only between four to five thousand but still a lot fun. But because of growing attendance and interest we expanded the festival in 1995 to include the evening of the the 3rd as well. We have been feeling the growing pains ever since. The average attendance the past three years has been about 25,000.

Through the Years

The stage has been placed at various locations and has been different sizes over the years in heart of downtown Iowa City. For the past five years we've added side stages to feature more local artists. A few years ago we announced the addition of the "All Youth Stage" featuring local jr. high and high school students.

We have always placed an emphasis on education and over the years have had numerous workshops and lectures led by jazz greats such as Paquito D'Rivera, T. S Monk, Paul McKee, Ed Wilkerson, Ron Carter, Marshall Allen, and members of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Steve Grismore, Executive director

A few years years ago, National Public Radio and "Jazz Set", hosted by Branford Marsalis returned to Iowa City for the 2000 Iowa City Jazz Festival. Becca Pullium and Duke Marcos was here to record the Festival for "Jazz Set" which is broadcast on over 200 stations nationally including our very own KCCK. NPR has visited us three times prior to 2000 and 2000's festival was recorded and then broadcast several times during the following year. You can still hear past years of the Iowa City Jazz Festival on "Jazz Set"

We have also won several "Tourism and the Arts Awards" for the state of Iowa, and have been named "Best Festival" by several local newspapers including the Iowa City Press Citizen in 2002.

I am looking forward to continuing the tradition this year with our biggest and best festival ever! See you there!




The following is a list of all the different bands we have featured over the years on the main stage.

2016 Main Stage Performers

Poncho Sancez and His Latin Jazz Band

David Berkman Sextet

Vijay Iyer Trio

Miguel Zenón Quartet

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom

Marquis Hill Blacktet

Edmar Castaneda Trio

Akikio Tsuruga Trio with Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter

Larry Fuller Trio

Phil Hey Quartet

Damani Phillips Trio

United Jazz Ensemble

North Corridor Jazz All Stars

2015 Main Stage Performers

Charles Lloyd featuring Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders and Kendrick Scott

Dave Douglas & High Risk featuring Jonathan Maron, Mark Huiliana & Shigeto

Rudresh Mahanthappa Bird Calls

Ben Allison Think Free

Becca Stevens Band

Julian Lage Trio

Brian Charette Trio



Atlantis Quartet

United Jazz Ensemble

North Corridor Jazz All-Stars


Whirlpool with Ron Miles

KROM with Gabe Medd

2014 Main Stage Performers

Tom Harrell Colors of a Dream with Johnathan Blake, Wayne Escoffery, Ugonna Okegwo, Jaleel Shaw, and Esperanza Spalding

Joe Lovano Us Five

Pedrito Martinez Group

Anat Cohen Quartet

Etienne Charles Creole Soul

Ingrid Jensen's Nordic Connect

Jared Gold Trio

Melissa Aldana & the Crash Trio

The Commons Collective

North Corridor Jazz All Stars

United Jazz Ensemble


2013 Main Stage Performers

Pharoah Sanders

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Fred Hersch Trio

Christian Scott Quintet

Charlie Hunter/Scott Amendola

JD Allen Trio

Sachal Vasandani & the Iowa Jazz Orchestra

Philip Dizack Quartet


United Jazz Ensemble

North Corridor Jazz All Stars

2012 Main Stage Performers

Mumbo Jumbo: A Tribute to Paul Motian featuring Matt Wilson, Chris Cheek, Mar Maneri, Steve Cardenas and Thomas Morgan

Heath Brothers Quartet

Cyrille Aimee and the Surreal Band

Todd Sickafoose Tiny Resistors

Kevin Mahogany & the Iowa Jazz Orchestra

Marco Benevento Trio

Ariel Pocock Trio

Groove Theory

Al Naylor Group

United Jazz Ensemble

North Corridor Jazz All Stars

2011 Main Stage Performers

Randy Weston African Rhythms Trio

Carmen Bradford with the Iowa Jazz Orchestra

Josh Roseman Unit

Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet


Depaul Jazz Ensemble

John Ellis & Double-Wide

Elsie Parker and "The Poor People of Paris"

Kevin Hart & The Vibe Tribe with David Hoffman

United Jazz Ensemble

North Corridor Jazz All Stars

2010 Main Stage Performers

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio featuring Jonathon Kreisberg and Jamire Williams

Roswell Rudd's Trombone Tribe

Paul Smoker Notet

Bob Washut Dream Band

Gabriel Espinosa

U.S. Army Blues

Lake Street Dive


Public Property

Koplant No

United Jazz Ensemble

2009 Main Stage Performers

Dave Holland Quintet

Bill Frisell Quartet

David Sanchez Quartet

Lionel Loueke Trio

Chris Potter's Underground

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Orquesta Alto Maiz

The Des Moines Big Band

Bob Levy and the J.O. Trio

Diplomats of Solid Sound

United Jazz Ensemble

2008 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Sam Salomone Trio

Medeski, Martin & Wood


Garaj Mahal


John Scofield Trio & The Shoehorns

The Rod Pierson Big Band Featuring Craig Boche

Brent Sandy Quartet

Jenny Scheinman

Joshua Redman Trio

2007 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Ray Anderson & the UI Jazz Faculty Ensemble

Airto Moreira and Eyedentity

Corey Christiansen Trio

Cuong Vu Trio

Stanton Moore Trio

Don Byron Plays Junior Walker

Public Property

Rebecca Martin

Ben Allison Quartet

The Derek Trucks Band

2006 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz

South Shore Youth Jazz Ensemble

Robin Eubanks and the U of I Jazz Faculty Ensemble

Mel Rhyne Trio

Immediate Left featuring Tim Hagans & Scott Kinsey

The Bad Plus

Bob Dorr and the Blue Band

Rachael Price

Dapp Theory

Geoffrey Keezer Trio

Mingus Dynasty

2005 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

The FunkDaddies

Ashanti (Latin jazz)

JUISE Big Band

Kim Richmond and Clay Jenkins (with Reggie Thomas on piano)

The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Kenny Garrett and his Quartet

Susie Miget Group

X-tet featuring Chris Merz

Henry Threadgill's Zooid

Eric Alexander

Conrad Herwig and Brian Lynch present "The Latin Side of Miles"

2004 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Orquesta Alto Maiz

Kevin "BF" Burt and the Instigators

David Berkman Quartet with Dick Oatts

Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana

Stefon Harris and Blackout


Grismore/Scea Group

Guaranteed Swahili

Terell Stafford Quintet

Patricia Barber


2003 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

United Jazz Alumni Band

OftEnsemble (University of Iowa Faculty Ensemble)

Dennis McMurrin and the Demolition band

Geri Allen Trio (with Buster Williams and Lenny White)

Don Byron /Music for Six Musicians

Charlie Hunter Quintet

Fred Anderson Trio

Ron Miles Quartet

Andrew Hill Quartet

Dirty Dozen Brass Band


2002 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Bohemian Soul Tribe

Everette DeVan Trio

Bill Charlap and Warren Vaché

Paul Motian and the Electric Bebop Band

Legends of the Bandstand

Featuring Cedar Walton, Ray Drummond, Louis Hayes, Curtis Fuller, and David "Fathead" Newman


Malachi Thompson Freebop Band

Sex Mob

Lavay Smith & her Red Hot Skillet Lickers


2001 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Matt Wilson Quartet

Chris Merz Trio

Kenny Werner

Benny Golson Quartet

Carla Bley/Steve Swallow

Dave Zollo and Friends

Greg Osby Quartet

Pat Martino Trio fearturing Joey De Francesco and Billy Hart



2000 Main Stage Performers

Eddie Picard
Charlie Kohlhase Quintet
Ravi Coltrane Quartet
Bill Frisell's New Quartet

Scea/Short Quartet

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio

Patricia Barber

Orquesta Alto Maiz

Christian McBride Band

John Scofield Trio


The Fest now runs for three days: June 29, 30, & July 1

1999 Main Stage Performers

Bob Washut Trio

Mark Turner Quartet

Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra

John Pizzarelli

The Sam Band

Max Vax Trio

Sam Newsome and Global Unity

Lou Donaldson with Dr. Lonnie Smith

Liquid Soul


1998 Main Stage Performers

Real Time Work Shop

Motion Poets

Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff

Karl Montzka Quartet
Dominique Eade
Brad Mehldau Trio
Victor Mendoza
Dave Douglas Quartet


1997 Main Stage Performers

The Neville Brothers Odd Bar Trio

Fred Hersh Trio

Ray Anderson and the Pocket Brass Band

Poncho Sanchez

Kenny Garrett Quartet


1996 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

Voices of Soul
Sunny Wilkenson
Eight Bold Souls

Shade of Blue
Jerry Granneli and UFB
Larry Goldings Trio

Maceo Parker
Joe Lovano Quintet with Tom Harrell


1995 Main Stage Performers

United Jazz Ensemble

The OftenEnsemble

U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors

Strange Pursuit
The Blues Instigators
Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz
Von Freeman Quartet
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Roy Haynes Quartet


1994 Main Stage Performers

Iowa State Fair Jazz Band

Voices of Soul

Duke Robillard

Tim Berne and Bloodcount

Mahlathini and Mohotella Queens

T. S. Monk


The Fest now runs for two days: July 3 & 4

1993 Main Stage Performers

The Des Moines Big Band featuring Dick Oatts

Ryan Kisor Quintet with Chris Potter and Larry Goldings

Paquito D'Rivera


1992 Main Stage Performers

Dox Big Band

Steve Grismore Quartet

Susie Miget Band

Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz

The Either/Orchestra

John Scofield Trio

1991 Main Stage Performers

Tom Davis Quintet

Dox Big Band

Thompson/Grismore Quintet

Dourghty Davis McPartland

Dennis McMurrin and the Demolition Band

Paul Smoker Trio


Summer of the Arts           319.337.7944           325 E. Washington St., Ste. 301 Iowa City IA 52240