Resident Jacob Magiera has said it time and again, almost like a mantra – “There’s talent in Roselle Park.”
Resident, saxophonist, professional musician, educator, bandleader, and recording artist Julius Tolentino is the latest example of that.
He dreams of having a jazz festival in the borough and at the end of the November 1st Mayor & Council meeting, he laid out the framework to make his dream a reality before the governing body.
“Seeing all the things that we’re doing in the town I just thought it would be a great place to start off our own jazz festival,” Julius said during his presentation, “Jazz music has the ability to bring communities together. I’ve seen that firsthand. I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of festivals all around the world, and I feel like we can bring something to Roselle Park that will be very different in a jazz festival and really bring in the education part of it and get different towns to come . . . [We’d be] talking about community, talking about the pride of Roselle Park and bringing all these jazz fans to our town would be an amazing endeavor.”
Julius took part in the 2015 Roselle Park Loves Art Festival with the Chameleon Jazz Band. It was that performance that made him realize the possibility that Roselle Park could be a home for jazz music.
In reviewing on the record his outline for a 2019 Roselle Park Jazz Festival, Julius – who has taken part in the Montclair Jazz Festival – pulled from his 20 years as a professional musician and 12 years in music education in order to formulate a program that would incorporate a program he has started in New Providence as part of the New Jersey Youth Symphony. It is a two-week workshop and Julius would love to see that two-week workshop culminate in a big jazz festival.
He also wants to include the swing dance community in Jersey to make it a full immersion event. He explained, “There’s a big swing dance community and we have ties the George Gee Big Band as well as a vocal competition that will also bring different communities together. That would be like an online vocal competition, and the two finalists will perform with the student big band at the festival.”
Julius has a tentative date, July 27th, in mind. He sees the gazebo area of Michael Mauri Park on the corner of East Grant Avenue and Chestnut Street as a great location for the festival. If possible, he would like to include a sound stage much like the ones that have been used for the music portion of the Roselle Park Arts Festival. The inaugural year would have two main acts and a dance lesson portion.
“I think it’s all feasible with the team that we have,” he stated, adding, “I’m also bringing in Lori Wood Montague. She’s very experienced with running a festival. She’s a key component to the Montclair Jazz Festival being what it is. She worked for Jazz House Kids for many years, and she’s also a wonderful fundraiser that would help bring in the funds to pull this thing off.”
Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio, during the presentation, addressed the municipal government aspects and logistics for the jazz festival. He explained that an autonomous entity could be created which would be separate from the municipality but still have the support of the municipality to have Roselle Park be the host and cover insurance, safety, and public works.
One main component in Julius’ big picture outlook is to not just have the jazz festival but to provide several scholarships to Roselle Park’s finest musicians from middle school to high school and have them attend the summer camp for two weeks then have them featured on the big stage.
With no objection from the dais, the next step for Julius is to meet with the borough’s municipal arts committee this month to begin the actual work of scheduling and setting target dates to have the 2019 Roselle Park Arts Festival become a reality.
Anyone interested in more information or volunteering can reach out to Julius Tolentino on his Facebook page (link).
A copy of the proposal presented to the governing body is available below:
Download RP 2019 Jazz Festival Proposal (November 1, 2018)