New 2-day Cincinnati International Jazz Festival this weekend at park along Ohio River

The new Cincinnati International Jazz Festival is expected to feature a stellar line-up of smooth jazz artists on Cincinnati’s riverfront this Labor Day weekend.

Norman Brown will headline the festival on Friday and Brian Culbertson will close out the festival and headline on Saturday night.

“Cincinnati has a longstanding history of celebrating vibrant music that moves and inspires,” said Kim Benoit, president and CEO of Rainbow Promotions. “We are thrilled to present some of the most talented musicians in the world for a celebration that the city deserves.”

Presented by Rainbow Promotions LLC in collaboration with Robbie Todd Productions LLC, the festival will be at The ICON Festival Stage at Smale Riverfront Park at 25 Race St. in Cincinnati.

“Rainbow Promotions LLC also puts on the Long Beach Jazz Festival and the San Diego Jazz Festival. Now, Cincinnati joins that legacy. So, we are becoming the third Rainbow Promotions LLC in association with my company, Robbie Todd Productions LLC, to present the First Annual Cincinnati International Jazz Festival,” said Robbie Todd, host and co-creator of the festival.

Todd, who is from Cincinnati, has a longstanding history in the entertainment industry. He said he had a vision for the festival more than a decade ago when they were building Smale Riverfront Park. He has worked with artists like Bootsy Collins, Will Downing, and others. Todd graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts in 1982. He will serve as the event’s emcee.

“Cincinnati has always been the crossroads of America,” said Todd. “So, for generations, acts toured out of Cincinnati or through Cincinnati, going from the North to the South, or the East to the West…Cincinnati has always been a huge market for music, and not just for jazz. Cincinnati has always had a rich history when it comes to music.”

Boasting food, art and culture, the two-day festival will celebrate a variety of award-winning and multi-talented jazz artists. Artists performing at the festival on Friday include Norman Brown, Alex Bugnon and Avery* Sunshine. On Saturday Keiko Matsui, Brian Culbertson, Gerald Albright, Damien Escobar, Nestor Torres, Maysa, Brian Simpson, Eric Roberson and Jackiem Joyner will perform.

“Excitement is in the air. This is something that people have been asking for,” said Todd. “Now it’s time to come and support it. We’re trying to sell it out, both days. This is something we plan to do every year.”

Tickets range from $60 to $170 on Friday (plus applicable ticketing fees.) and the cost of tickets on Sat. range from $70 to $185 (plus applicable ticketing fees.) Various ticket packages including VIP options are available. For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to

Our concerts are a little different. There aren’t just rows of chairs, or people sitting on the lawn, he said. In the front of the stage, or in the VIP area, there will be round tables with eight chairs and those patrons will get dinner and two glasses of wine included with their ticket price. Behind the VIP’s is a section with folded chairs. Another ticketing option is in The Great Lawn, which is general admission seating.

“We have the beautiful, outdoor festival stage that is connected to The Andrew J Brady Music Center, which is fabulous. There’s a huge stage with excellent seating,” said Todd.

The event will also feature a pavilion with vendors and food trucks. Items will be available for purchase, including clothing, accessories, art and more.

“It’s a festival atmosphere that we really haven’t seen in this region in a long time, and it’s truly an international jazz festival,” said Todd.

How to go

What: Cincinnati International Jazz Festival

When: Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Friday, event from 6-10 p.m.; On Saturday, doors open at 11:30 a.m. and music is from 1-10 p.m.

Where: Icon Festival Stage at Smale Park, Cincinnati.

Cost: $60 to $170 on Friday, $70 to $185 on Saturday.

More info:

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