On Sunday, Jazz Fest took place at the Beloved Community Center in Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collective worked collaboratively to bring this event to life to highlight “Women in Jazz” and reflect on the influential history of jazz and music in Niagara Falls.
People from all over came out to listen to jazz music and enjoy food from local vendors and food trucks. The performances by Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame Inductee Marsha McWilson as well as Curtis Lundy and Umoja, featuring harpist Cassie Watson Francillon were the highlights of the event.
The Niagara Falls Jazz Fest was created in collaboration with Dawn Berry-Walker, daughter of jazz legend James “Pappy” Martin, and founder of the Pappy Martin Masten Jazz Festival. Pappy Martin and his brother, John “Spider” Martin, grew up in the Highland neighborhood of Niagara Falls, and famously played at renowned establishments including the Ontario House. To highlight Spider Martin’s story, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area commissioned Buffalo artist, Edreys Wajed, in 2019 to create a mural of Spider Martin along Main Street, bringing Spider Martin’s story into public space for the first time.
“This exact location is where it all started,” Berry-Walker said. “It’s where my father and his bandmates all started out playing together at age ten back in the ‘40s. So to come full circle and bring it back to the Center Court Community was beyond special.”
The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collective are happy to announce that Jazz Fest will be an annual event in Niagara Falls.