Valley Jazz Network

Valley Jazz Network logo
VJN Conversation Pic Christian Scott and Sarah Elizabeth Charles performing

The Valley Jazz Network (VJN) is an outreach arm of the Fine Arts Center focused on preserving the legacy of jazz.

The VJN achieves this preservation through its programming which is designed to offer patrons a more intimate interaction with jazz and jazz artists. VJN serves as a network to promote jazz in the Pioneer Valley through programs and partnerships. VJN produces small concerts called “informances,” educational programs, and listening parties in various community venues in Amherst, Greenfield, Holyoke, and Springfield.


Informances are interactive gatherings where audience members are encouraged to ask questions and performers often demonstrate the answers through performance. Our past informances have included sessions on African Rhythms in Jazz, Latin Jazz, and Contemporary Jazz. Artists have included Bob Weiner, Felipe Salles, The Gonzalez Brothers, Jason Robinson and Miguel Zenon.

A listening party is a small and intimate event where attendees have a chance to talk with jazz musicians and listen to the music that has inspired them. VJN has sponsored listening parties and intimate receptions with Tia Fuller, Jane Monheit, Emery Smith, Grace Kelly, Regina Carter, Warren Wolf, Ambrose Akinmusire, Sheila Jordan and more. The information sharing is fascinating. The event is always memorable!

Membership in the Valley Jazz Network is free. If you are interested in being more involved, serving on a Steering Committee, or helping to organize activities, see our Organizing Principles for more details.

For information on joining this cohort of jazz lovers whose mission promises to bring a positive influence on the presentation of “America’s Classical Music” (Dr. Billy Taylor), contact Michael Sakamoto via email.


* * * * * * * * * *


Fall 2020 Events

VALLEY JAZZ NETWORK collaborates with Amherst College to host REGINA CARTER AND FRIENDS.

It is with pleasure that the Valley Jazz Network offers a special collaboration with Amherst College: REGINA CARTER AND FRIENDS.
Friday, Sept. 25 at 8 pm. It is free for the general public. The event will feature a conversation with Ms. Carter, moderated by Darryl Harper.  

Regina Carter holding violin
The first jazz musician and African-American to play the Guarneri Del Gesu violin, once owned by Niccolò Paganini, MacArthur “Genius” and multiple grammy-nominated Regina Carter is director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s All-Female Jazz Residency and has collaborated with Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Ray Brown, Kenny Barron, the String Trio of New York, Cassandra Wilson, Oliver Lake, and Steve Turre. Regina Carter and Friends features Brandon McCune on piano; Chris Lightcap on bass; and Alvester Garnett on drums.

2019-2020  VJN Events

Max Roach


A series of events honoring the innovative spirit of drummer Max Roach.

Panelists Images

•  October 23, 2019 CONVERSATION: Drummers As Trendsetters, The panelists include TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON, renown drummer, composer and producer; MAKAYA MCCRAVEN UMass alumni, beat scientist and popular drummer; ROYAL HARTIGAN, who studied extensively with Max Roach; and moderator STEPHANIE SHONEKAN, chair of the UMass W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. Followed by mini-concert with MTALI BANDA.

•  October 24, 2019 CONVERSATION: The Life and Legacy of Max Roach, Panelists include famous poet SONIA SANCHEZ, Max’s daughter MAXINE ROACH, Max Roach’s biographist HERB BOYD visual artist and colleague of Max Roach NELSON STEVENS, and moderator JOHN BRACEY, faculty member, UMass W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.

•  October 24, 2019 PERFORMANCE: Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue by Terri Lyne Carrington Quartet. The performance will feature a special appearance by poet Sonia Sanchez.  


Melisa Aldana and SF Jazz Collective NOVEMBER 2019 - MELISSA ALDANA. Listening Party with the artist Wed. Nov. 13th. RSVP required. Limited seating.    

MARCH 2020 -  ROMAN DIAZ ENSEMBLE (with Magic Triangle) TBD.
APRIL 2020 - SF JAZZ COLLECTIVE -  6:30 pm Pre-show Listening Party with Etienne Charles.

2018 - 2019


Aaron Diehl
FEB. 8, 2019 - AARON DIEHL     •        Week of FEB. 14 - CHRISTIAN SCOTT

MARCH 2019 - JANE BUNNETT: MAQUEQUE  (Presented by Magic Triangle Series)

Listening Party, Post show reception and special community events presented by VJN in conjunction with FAC performances happen on or around the dates mentioned above.
More specific details are sent via email to VJN members. BECOME A MEMBER (see below)


Theo Croker

Listening Party with Theo Croker*
Monday, November 13, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
RSVP required. or call 413.545.4161.
[Performance in Bowker Auditorium is Wednesday, November 15, 2017 BUY TICKETS]

The Message*
Listening Party: TBA
[Performance in Bowker Auditorium is February 22, 2018. BUY TICKETS]

All events subject to change. For RSVP and info: email or call 413.545.4161.

* These events are in conjunction with the FAC Center Series. For tickets visit

VJN Informance! JAZZ MUSIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE • April 3, 2018 • Old Chapel, UMass Amherst
7:00 p.m. CONVERSATION &  8:30 p.m. CONCERT featuring Helen Sung; and then Christian Scott & his sextet.

Jazz Music and Social Change Collage
Through their work, musicians often focus or dedicate their talent on giving voice to civil rights and social change, strengthening the breadth and depth of social activism. On April 3rd, the Valley Jazz Network hosts JAZZ MUSIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE a Conversation & Concert* creating a public platform for sharing and understanding how some artists use their talent to forward social issues and contribute a positive impact on society. At the table will be three world-class musicians: renown activist, lyricist and singer Toshi Reagon, trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and Asian American pianist Helen Sung

* Concert featuring a short set with Helen Sung; and then a full set with Christian Scott and his band.


*   *   *   *   *    *    *   *    *    *    *

Miguel Zenon at Holyoke Library
Miguel Zenon at Holyoke Public Library

Wille Hill and Ambrose Akinmusire
Listening Party: Willie Hill interviews Ambrose Akinmusire in Northampton, MA


Facebook "LIKE" OUR  FACEBOOK PAGE: On the Valley Jazz Network Facebook page you will find all sorts of jazz-related events, workshops, lectures, etc. Jazz events throughout the Valley.