Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Ends on High Note with All-Star Line-up, Impromptu Performances and ‘Drop the Mic’ Moments

Glasper Day 3

Artist in Residence Robert Glasper, Host Dave Chappelle and Director of Culture and Vibes Dwyane Wade greet the crowd during the Blue Note Jazz Festival on July 30, 2023 in Napa, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Blue Note Jazz Festival/Mathieu Bitton)


Nas headlined the Black Radio Stage on Saturday, July 29, 2023, during the Blue Note Jazz Festival, Napa, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Blue Note Jazz Festival/Mathieu Bitton)

Crowd - Day 3

Celebrity guests post onstage at the Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa, July 28, 2023, Napa, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Blue Note Jazz Festival/Mathieu Bitton)

Host Dave Chappelle and Artist in Residence Robert Glasper lead Moments of Unscripted Brilliance

Shout out to Blue Note! Thank you for gathering with me, with some of my closest friends, and greatest artists of all time.”

— Dave Chappelle

NAPA, CALIFORNIA, USA, August 4, 2023/ — The second annual Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa, a euphoric celebration of music, culture, and camaraderie, concluded this past weekend at the Silverado Resort, with 43 scheduled concerts on three stages and just as many drop the mic, impromptu moments by performing and guest artists. The main stage was ignited each night by Artist in Residence Robert Glasper’s jazz-fused music and host Dave Chappelle’s hilarious wit, setting the larger stage of appreciation for the arts and culture. NBA champion and wine entrepreneur Dwyane Wade served as the festival’s Director of Culture and Vibes and helped elevate the guests’ experience by organizing events for food enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs.

“This was the one!” exclaimed host Dave Chappelle. “Talent reigned on every square inch of every stage! This was the place to be. Everything about this festival demonstrated what I love most about our culture: creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness.” Chappelle added.

To celebrate jazz’s legacy during the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the small-town festival brought in an incredible lineup of cultural luminaries and next-generation superstars from the worlds of jazz and hip hop. Nas, Mary J. Blige, Chance The Rapper, De La Soul, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rakim, Talib Kweli, Anderson .Paak, PJ Morton, Cory Henry, and Robert Glasper.

“This weekend was a very powerful and culturally extraordinary experience. The harmony of artists and cultural icons uniting and joining forces in song on and off stage was nothing less than historic, movement-like, and magical,” said Alex Kurland, the Director of Programming for Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa. “This festival has a creative and cultural renaissance quality, led and driven by the kinship of artists and cultural caretakers.” 

Day 1
The three-day, three-stage festival kicked off on Friday, July 28th, showcasing the diversity of jazz and its influence on various music genres with an impressive array of performers, including Big Freedia, Ari Lennox, The Soul Rebels, Adam Blackstone, Madlib, Cordae, Parliament Funkadelic featuring George Clinton, Ghost Note, Frédéric Yonnet, and Soulive. A magical moment was captured when Robert Glasper and De La Soul, with Talib Kweli sitting in for Dave Jolicoeur, performed “Me, Myself, and I” on stage with George Clinton, who is sampled on the track. By evening, the grounds were filled with anticipation as Mary J. Blige took to the stage captivating the crowd by rolling through her iconic hits and demonstrating why she has earned the title “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.”

Day 2
The festivities continued with performances by Meshell Ndegeocello, Talib Kweli, Madlib, Robert Glasper with special guests Lalah Hathaway and Terrace Martin on the Black Radio Stage. The Soul Rebels, featuring Rapsody and Keyon Harrold, were the standout moments on the Footprint stage.

Nas headlined to a crowd that knew every word of his classic hits like “One Mic,” “Hate Me Now,” “N.Y. State of Mind,” and “If I Ruled The World,” featuring surprise guest brass band, The Soul Rebels. Nas stood on stage, his music floating across a crowd captivated by the mix of hip-hop and jazz.

Day 3
The Sunday lineup continued to deliver with performances by Chance the Rapper, Gary Clark Jr., PJ Morton, yasiin bey, Rakim, and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and NxWorries, the duo of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge, Cory Henry, Taylor and Bobby McFerrin, and Derrick Hodge.

The show took on a whole stunning twist when, at the urging of Glasper and Chappelle, Chance the Rapper came out before his headlining set to witness Rakim’s impromptu performance of “Paid in Full.” Afterwards, Chance joined Kweli, freestyling over A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” while Rakim chimed in. Derrick Hodge on bass and DJ Jahi Sundance joined the rare and multigenerational moment between artists, which was complemented by the musicianship with Keyon Harrold on trumpet, Chris Dave on drums, Isaiah Sharkey on guitar, and Frédéric Yonnet on harmonica, who had the grand finale with a passionate solo that one guest described as “the voice of God radiating through the air.” While it was a perfect moment to drop the mic, Yonnet politely handed it back to Chappelle.

Food and Wine Experiences
Festival goers that ventured to the Blue Note Stage area caught an even more intimate vibe as the stage anchored the Wine Garden and “Backyard” experiences. NBA champion and wine entrepreneur Dwyane Wade served as the festival’s Director of Culture and Vibes and helped elevate the guests’ experience by hosting two pop-up Wade Cellars’ “When We Gather” events with Chef Darryl Bell of Stateline Road Smokehouse.

BNJF Live!
Other additions to this year’s festival included BNJF Live! A Media Stage that provided artists and journalists the chance to interview their favorite musicians and influencers from the culture. Rapper and podcaster Talib Kweli engaged in insightful conversations with De La Soul, George Clinton, Robert Glasper, and Ari Melber for his popular podcast, “The People’s Party with Talib Kweli.” Derrick “D-Nice” Jones, harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet, and trumpeter Keyon Harold took to the couch for a conversation on the influence of jazz on hip hop while Ari Melber interviewed Robert Glasper and, later, Chance the Rapper.

Spotted at the Festival
Notable personalities spotted among the crowd included Gabrielle Union, Chris Paul, Bert Kreischer, Phillip Bailey, yasiin bey, Andra Day, DJ D-Nice, Craig Robinson, Spice Adams, Lynn Whitfield, Amanda Seales, Hannibal Buress, Tisha Campbell, Dead Prez, Michelle Wolfe, Andrew Yang, Ari Melber, Jennifer Freema, and Tichina Arnold.

A Resounding Success
The Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa concluded without a hitch and exceeded expectations, delivering an unparalleled celebration of music and culture and cementing its reputation as a must-attend event for music, food, and wine enthusiasts. The festival’s fusion of jazz, soul, and hip hop brought together a diverse audience and demonstrated the unifying power of music.

“My God, how do you close a show this great? My God, what did we all see here today?” said Chappelle. “Shout out to Blue Note. Thank you for gathering with me with some of my closest friends and greatest artists of all time.”

Carla Sims
Blue Note Jazz Festival
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