Grand Rapids Gets Jazzy

Phil Denny

Organizers, entertainers release schedule for full day and evening of FREE jazz performances slated for Saturday, Aug. 18

Press Release:
Organizers of GRandJazzFest have announced the schedule for the inaugural GRandJazzFest being held in downtown Grand Rapids at Rosa Parks Circle on Aug. 18:

  • 12 noon – Festival starts
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Edye Evans Hyde
  • 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Walt Gutowski & The Bridge Street Band with Michelle Covington
  • 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Grupo Ayé
  • 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. – The Steve Hilger Jazz Quintet
  • 6:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. – Phil Denny
  • 8:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Tim Bowman (headline act)
  • 10 p.m. – Festival concludes

Emceeing GRandJazzFest is WZZM 13’s Eddie Rucker. A huge jazz fan, Rucker is known in West Michigan for her work producing WZZM 13’s Take Five program. She is also a member of the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority’s Community Inclusion Group.

“We’re thrilled to have Eddie emceeing GRandJazzFest,” Festival Chair Audrey Sundstrom said. “With her expertise and enthusiasm, she is the perfect choice.”

Tim Bowman

Renowned guitarist Tim Bowman of Detroit will headline GRandJazzFest. Bowman, an extraordinary contemporary jazz guitarist who headlined the 2007 Guitars and Saxes Tour, was named Billboard’s 2009 Top 10 Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year and, at the Dubai International Jazz Festival, was named Best Guitarist of 2010.

Grupo Ayé, formed by percussionist Robert Mulligan, brings Latin jazz and more to the stage. Grupo Ayé specializes in Afro-Cuban music, which blends salsa, Latin jazz, bachata and merengue. Joining Mulligan will be Oscar Gonzalez, Daniel Montejo, Steve Talaga, Tom Lockwood, James Rodriguez, Brad Fowler, Peter Nelson and Jordan Richards.

The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra for more than 35 years has been one of Michigan’s premier jazz ensembles, featuring some of the finest musicians in the area playing swinging original compositions and arrangements as well as traditional favorites.

Edye Evans Hyde

Accompanying GRJO will be well-known vocalist Edye Evans Hyde, who delights audiences of all ages. GRJO is led by Manager Bob Nixon and Musical Director Tim Froncek.

The Steve Hilger Jazz Quintet of Grand Rapids plays versions of jazz standards as well as original works. Steve Hilger, who heads up the band, has been a singer-songwriter since the mid-1970s; he’s joined by John Gist, Steve Talaga, Randy Marsh, Charlie Hoats, Paul Brewer, Chris Lawrence and Rob Mulligan.

Saxophonist Phil Denny is another major performer in the GRandJazzFest lineup. Denny, of Lansing, was a featured performer at the 2012 Dubai International Jazz Festival. In July he released his first album, Crossover.

Walt Gutowski & The Bridge Street Band, accompanied by vocalist Michelle Covington, will perform at GRandJazzFest. Joining Gutowski and Covington on stage will be Mark Weymouth, Robert Pace, JR Simmons, Walt Gutowski III, Isaac Norris and Don Newton.

“We hope festival-goers will enjoy the musical journey with these diverse Michigan-local artists, and take time between sets to experience some of the wonderful restaurants, bars, shops and museums that downtown Grand Rapids has to offer,” Sundstrom said.

GRandJazzFest is organized by GR and Jazz, a nonprofit organization founded and led by Sundstrom and a board dedicated to jazz in Grand Rapids. GR and Jazz also has collaborated with a team of additional jazz aficionados including local business and community leaders and the West Michigan Jazz Society.

In addition to presenting sponsor DTE Energy Foundation, sponsors include the Downtown Development Authority, GR and Jazz, IntentPR, Hilger Hammond, Downtown Alliance, Ferris State University, Gilmore Collection, Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, Meijer,, ShutterWerks Media, Swift Printing, WGVU and the West Michigan Jazz Society. The complete sponsor list and Friends of GRandJazzFest can be found at

More information on GRandJazzFest can be found at, and at the festival’s Facebook and Twitter sites – and