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Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival

Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival

For over three decades, the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival, affectionately dubbed "Baga," has represented a unique partnership between Knox College, the Galesburg community, and local music and arts supporters. The festival features performances by guest artists, Knox faculty, alumni, and the Knox Jazz Ensemble. This year's artists are Aaron Diehl and CALJE (Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble)


Knox-Rootabaga FestivalTickets
The Festival Pass is $30 per person and includes access to all events. Individual tickets may also be purchased at the door.


Rootabaga History

The festival was initiated in 1980 at Carl Sandburg College by Galesburg residents Mona and Tom Tourlentes. It began as the Rootabaga Jazz Festival, named after Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories, a children's book. Sandburg intentionally misspelled "rutabaga" for the book's title. 

Guest Artists
Thanks to the hard work of numerous students and music lovers, the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival continues its commitment to bringing world-class jazz to the Galesburg community. Guest artists have included Kurt Elling, Benny Green, and the Artie Shaw and Woody Herman bands.


2013 Ben Williams and Sound Effect, The Deep Blue Organ Trio
2012 Noah Preminger Group, Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls
2011 The Julian Lage Group, The Funky Butt Brass Band
2010 The Matt Wilson Trio
2009 Aaron Goldberg Trio, The Romaniacs
2008 The Hilario Duran Trio, The Renegades
2007 The Ben Allison Quartet, Happy Apple
2006 Jim Rotondi, Eric Alexander, Ashanti
2005 Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, Youngblood Brass Band
2004 Greg Osby Four, Doug Wamble Quartet
2003 Mose Allison, Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers
2002 Joey DeFrancesco Trio, Tony Monaco Trio
2001 Kurt Elling Quartet, Orbert Davis, Zach Brock
2000 Benny Green, Pat Harbison, Mike Lee, Matt Wilson
1999 Rob McConnell, Bobby Shew, Mark Vinci, Orquesta Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz
1998 The Hornheads, Jae Sinnitt Trio, Orquesta Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz, Mike Pagan, Rich Shanklin
1997 Curtis Fuller, Brad Goode, Mike Smith, Gene Parker, Kevin Hart Latin Jazz Quintet
1996 The Hornheads, Charlie Kohlhase Quintet


2014 Festival Schedule

Thursday, April 10

Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival Knox Faculty and Friends Combo
The performance features Knox's accomplished jazz faculty and outstanding local jazz musicians. Knox boasts a tremendously talented and renowned jazz performance faculty, and we are proud to open the festival by showcasing these outstanding musicians as well as some of the area's finest jazz artists. The Knox Faculty and Friends Combo performance is a celebration of the vibrant jazz community in central Illinois.

Time: 8:00 p.m.-midnight
Location: McGillacuddy's Restaurant
Admission: $7 (save by purchasing Festival Pass)

Friday, April 11

Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival Knox Alumni Big Band and CALJE (Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble)
With only one rehearsal before their festival performance, the Alumni Big Band always impresses with a spirited performance that sounds like they've been playing together for years. Friday's featured artists, CALJE, bring together traditional Latin music from the Caribbean and South and Central America with contemporary compositions that honor the history and style of Latin music and offer an exciting new voice in contemporary Afro-Jazz.

Time: 8:00-9:00 p.m. (Alumni Big Band) and 9:30 p.m.-midnight (CALJE)
Location: McGillacuddy's Restaurant
Admission: $10 (save by purchasing Festival Pass)

Saturday, April 12

CALJE Rootabaga Kids: Meet the Artists
Children of all ages, families, and music lovers are invited to join CALJE for a free performance and educational program that will bring the styles, traditions, and techniques of Afro-Latin jazz to life. The whole family will love this event.

Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Galesburg Public Library, Community Room, 40 E. Simmons Street
Admission: Free

The Aaron Diehl Quartet

Knox Jazz Ensemble with The Aaron Diehl Quartet
The award-winning Knox Jazz Ensemble opens the Saturday evening concert followed by festival headliners, The Aaron Diehl Quartet. Pianist Aaron Diehl was the 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz of the American Pianists Association and has been hailed by the New York Times as a "revelation." Diehl's distinctive style pays homage to the jazz tradition while establishing his own original voice. A member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet, he has also performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Boston Orchestra, and numerous jazz legends and emerging stars. Diehl's quartet is reminiscent of the great modern jazz quartet in its emphasis on chamber jazz and the intricate melodic and harmonic relationships possible within the piano, vibraphone, bass, and drum ensemble setting.

Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Orpheum Theatre
Admission: $15-20 (save by purchasing Festival Pass)