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March 7th, 2015

Spring Forward to Exit 0 International Jazz Festival With These Superb Artists, By: Carol Banks Weber  AXS Contributor

Spring Forward to Exit 0 International Jazz Festival With These Superb Artists, By: Carol Banks Weber AXS Contributor

For a relatively new music festival, the Exit 0 International Jazz Festival in historic Cape May, N.J. really pulls in blockbuster jazz, soul, R&B, and blues icons, NEA Jazz Masters, Grammy-winning legends, and crowd favorites, as well as a solid, loyal fan base every year. This time, the annual November festival jumps into spring, May 29-31, at several main stage concerts and over 30 clubs.

A resident of Cape May, Exit 0 Jazz Festival producer Michael Kline (Michael Kline Artists booking agency) saw the end of the semi-annual Cape May Jazz Festival after 17 years in 2011, due to economic problems. He and his Spy Boy Productions events company organized the Exit Zero Jazz Festival the next year, after Hurricane Sandy decimated the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, and other nearby towns. In March last year, Kline announced the beginning of the spring version of the festival, to take advantage of the pre-summer crowd and outdoor venues at this seaside Victorian landmark.

"When I think about festivals that I've been to, obvious ones that stand out are New Orleans, Monterey and Newport," he told Don Botch, in a March 29, 2014, Reading Eagle interview [also posted on the festival website's News section], "and these iconic festivals, all of which are held in the spring or summer, feature outdoor stages plus full vendor components including arts and crafts and food that speak to a region or a community."

The spring edition of this festival features live music at several choice stages: Jazz at the Estate in the afternoons at the Estate Outdoor Stage, Jazz Under the Stars Series, Cape May Convention Hall Main Stage Concerts, and 30-plus shows at clubs all over the city.

In a website press release, Kline explained the direction of his festival: "I wanted to offer something to Cape May to kick-off the summer season and celebrate music. We want fest-goers to find their summer soundtrack right here at the Festival. The fest keeps growing, and we’re getting bigger ideas about where we want to take the music. We want visitors to Cape May to hear and feel the music wherever they go in Cape May Festival weekend and we try to bring a little of that New Orleans street party flavor to Cape May."

With such an exclusive access to jazz celebrities under his international booking agency, Kline found a great way to hook his festival up. This year, the family friendly Exit 0 Jazz Festival lineup of over 100 musicians includes two big New Orleans artists in six-time-Grammy winner Dr. John & the Nite Trippers performing their salute to Louis Armstrong, and the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band, award-winning gypsy jazz singer Cyrille Aimée, 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone winner Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, DownBeat's Rising Star trumpeter Sean Jones, Wynton Marsalis/Herbie Hancock-approved child prodigy, Balinese pianist Joey Alexander, all-star Cuban singer Ernesto "Gato" Gatell, and 2010 Thelonious Monk first runner-up Charenee Wade.

One of the top music labels in the world - Motéma Music - is a major part of making this festival happen. Here are five special reasons to come.

Dr. John and his Nite Trippers invoke 'Ske-Dat-De-Dat Spirit Of Satch'

Dr. John, aka Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, aka Dr. John Creaux, is the high priest voodoo master, a guy with the golden tongue, and his own shortcut language - a combo of New Orleans smooth and street-smart musician - miles of fun on piano, guitar, those déjà-vu, gris-gris vocals. He and his Nite Trippers have been tripping through an exciting repertoire of Louis Armstrong standards in shows and from the August 19, 2014 album, Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit Of Satch on Concord Records. Besides winning six Grammys, the New Orleans legend was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 14, 2011 by John Legend, and first burst onto the mainstream circuit with his 1973, cross-over hit, "Right Place Wrong Time." He's always a good time. He and his band are up May 30, 8 p.m., at the Cape May Convention Hall/Vintage South Stage.

Rebirth Brass Band brings the party

The New Orleans-famous Rebirth Brass Band boasts fans from all over, young, old, rich, poor, Joe Schmo off the street to Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Everyone in the vicinity of Carrollton in uptown New Orleans makes a beeline Tuesday nights to the Maple Leaf Bar to see these guys jam and feel the true spirit of the second line. When they won their first Grammy in 2012 for Rebirth Of New Orleans, the rest of the world began to take serious notice of the grand funk and the conjugal lyrics. The band's currently on the move, about to tear up Seattle's Tractor Tavern tonight. Also stars on HBO's Treme, the nine-piece band comes from way back, 1983, when the Frazier brothers got it on from the streets of the French Quarter to festivals and the big time. The Rebirth Brass Band combines an electric brass section with R&B vocals for a second line party that will make you forget all your troubles. The group's on May 29, 10 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. at Cabanas/Cape May Brewery Stage and May 30, 3:45 p.m., Jazz at the Estate.

Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio create new on bold music

In 2013, Chilean tenor saxophonist and a virtual unknown walked away with the top prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and made history as the first female instrumentalist to do so. The then-24-year-old Melissa Aldana breezed past stiff competition to impress an impressive panel of legendary judges - Jane Ira Bloom, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Heath, and Bobby Watson. Ever since, Aldana has made the most of her opportunity, recording a self-titled album last June on Concord with her Crash Trio, fellow Chilean musician, bassist Pablo Menares, and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela, going on an extensive tour, and trying to carve out her own style from the inspiration of one of her biggest idols, Sonny Rollins. Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio are on at Jazz at the Estate, May 30, 12:15 p.m.

Trumpeter Sean Jones takes lead

Anyone who ever listened to Sean Jones' new record on Mack Avenue would be at his next available show. This young, hot trumpeter (formerly drummer) comes straight out of the John Coltrane/Miles Davis/Wynton Marsalis school of thought to forge his own foreground in the audacious never before seen. With longtime friends, pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer Obed Calvaire, the once lead trumpeter of Marsalis' Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra took the new and the old directly to heart, hitting hard, shooting deep, and playing whatever they felt. In a press release, Jones expressed his wish to jam with these musicians without overdubs, "This time it was just the four of us in one room, no barriers between us, playing live." Jones takes it to the next level May 30, 7:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. at Aleathea's/Whale's Tale and Splash Stage.

Cyrille Aimee redeems gypsy jazz for everyone

Gypsy jazz gets a bad rap from the mainstream as a little too mellow, an affable, ineffective, guitar-strumming monotone that goes nowhere fast. Enter, Cyrille Aimée, a young, luminous French/Dominican artist whose time has come. Aimee fell madly in love with gypsy jazz at a very young age, listening to the music fans would play around campfires before trekking over to the annual Django Reinhardt Festival near her childhood home in Samois-sur-Seine. A singer and composer fast approaching celebrity status wherever she gigs - hotels, clubs, cafes, the recent Portland Jazz Festival, she's been gigging a lot in support of her latest Mack Avenue record, It's A Good Day, while trying to fit in more music for another album. Her gypsy jazz is easygoing and mostly happy, but never boring. She brings lively, spirited vocals to vary the familiar flutter of cascading guitar strokes in time and in tune to her own sparkling, sudsy beat. Critics adore her. She's been on their list a lot last year, including Jazz Times' annual Readers' Poll. It's only a matter of time before she receives major Grammy notice. Aimee has shows at the Pier at the Lobster House/It's A Breeze Stage May 30, 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

February 27th, 2015

Michael Kline, Producer of Exit Zero Jazz, Talks the Fest With Destination Jazz TV

Michael Kline, Producer of Exit Zero Jazz, Talks the Fest With Destination Jazz TV

Michael Kline, Producer of Exit Zero Jazz, Talks the Fest With Destination Jazz TV

February 9th, 2015

Exit Zero Jazz Festival Set For Spring Edition May 29-31, 2015

Exit Zero Jazz Festival Set For Spring Edition May 29-31, 2015

During Exit 0, the seashore town becomes a veritable jazz village. I imagine that it must be like that in Sundance when Hollywood comes to their town for the annual film festival…. Jazz Times

Exit Zero Jazz Festival, presented by Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grille & Motema Music & Spy Boy Productions, kicks off May 29-May 31, 2015. The Spring Edition features Main Stage Concerts in the Cape May Convention Hall, Jazz at the Estate Outdoor Stage, Jazz Under the Stars Series, and Over 30 Club Shows in the National Historic Landmark
City of Cape May, New Jersey

  • * *
    Features Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee & 6 Time Grammy Award Winner Dr. John & The NiteTrippers and the Grammy Award Winning Rebirth Brass Band; Paul Jost Reimagines Springsteen's Born to Run; Night In Havana on the Beach at Hotel Icona; Sean Jones, Joe Locke, Cyrille Aimee; and Young Innovators Melissa Aldana, Charenee Wade; & Introducing Joey Alexander + More
  • * *

The charming Victorian seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey, will transform into a mecca of worldclass music, fine wine, great food and happy music fans May 29-May 31, 2015 for the 5th Exit Zero Jazz Festival. The festival celebrates music with over 100 international touring musicians descending on Cape May in an atmosphere similar to stylish, accessible European festivals. The perfect size for a family-friendly festival, Exit Zero Jazz offers fest-goers the opportunity to stroll from venue to venue and revel in many styles of music from jazz, soul, blues and R&B – not to mention the gorgeous ocean setting of the National Historic Landmark city.

Exit Zero Jazz is produced by Spy Boy Productions led by Michael Kline, who celebrated many summers in Cape May and returned in 2005 from New Orleans: " I wanted to offer something to Cape May to kick-off the summer season and celebrate music. We want fest-goers to find their summer soundtrack right here at the Festival. The fest keeps growing, and we're getting bigger ideas about where we want to take the music. We want visitors to Cape May to hear and feel the music wherever they go in Cape May Festival weekend and we try to bring a little of that New Orleans street party flavor to Cape May."

Named for the exit to Cape May off the Garden State Parkway, the festival attracts a loyal, diverse audience of thousands from the major metropolitan regions surrounding Cape May including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., all within a four or five hour drive of Cape May. The Festival features Grammy Award-winners, living legends, NEA Jazz Masters, emerging jazz stars, international musicians and home-grown talent too.

Ticket Information. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Cape May Convention Hall Box Office at (609)884.9563 or by visiting Hotel packages are available from Congress Hall, the Official Hotel Partner of Exit Zero Jazz, and from Hotel Partners on the Festival site. Individual tickets are available to all Cape May Convention Hall and Jazz at the Estate events. Festival Passes provide the best value for fest-goers: Duke's Pass: $150 plus tax and ticket facility fee Includes all headliners, club and Jazz at The Estate shows. Count's Pass: $70 plus tax & ticket facility fee Includes Jazz at the Estate and Pop's Pass club shows. Pop's Pass: $45 plus tax & ticket facility fee Includes all Club Shows all weekend.

About Exit 0 International Jazz Festival. Distressed at the loss of the semi-annual Cape May Jazz Festival, which ended a 17-year run in 2011 due to economic difficulties, jazz industry veteran Michael Kline launched the Exit Zero Jazz Festival in 2012, following in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Exit Zero is produced by Spy Boy Productions, an events company founded by Kline, who runs Michael Kline Artists, an international booking agency representing NEA Jazz Masters and emerging artists. Kline left Cape May in 1992 for New Orleans, where he hosted a show on WWOZ FM and worked in jazz. Music industry veteran Eric D. Wright completes the artistic leadership team as Festival Senior Producer. He was part of the launch team for the Rochester International Jazz Festival and is Assistant Director of Concert Operations for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Kline and Wright worked together in New Orleans on behalf of artist Terence Blanchard.

The Festival is supported through the efforts of our Festival Partners: Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grille, Motema Music, Exit Zero Magazine, Xerox, Congress Hall & Cape Resorts Group, Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities, South Jersey Tourism Corp.
We are grateful to our partners for supporting the positive cultural and economic impact for Cape May and the surrounding community Exit Zero Jazz Festival strives to make. Consumer Business: Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grille, Motema Music, Exit Zero Magazine & XEROX. Spirits. Tito's Handmade Vodka, Cape May Brewing Company, Auburn Road & Hawk Haven Vineyards Tourism: South Jersey Tourism Corp., Arts: Mid-Atlantic Center for Arts & Humanities, Cape May Center for Community Arts. Hospitality: Congress Hall, The Virginia Hotel, The Sandpiper, The Star Inn / La Mer Beachfront Inn / The Montreal Beach Resort / The Queen Victoria Bed & Breakfast/ The Grand Hotel/ The Carol Villa/ The Victorian Motel/ Hotel Icona. Retail: It's A Breeze, West End Garage, Just 4 Wheels, Whales Tale & Splash. Media: Jazz Times Magazine / WCFA-LP / WRTI FM / WURD AM/ WBGO FM. Community. Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May / Cape May Music Festival / Flying Fish Studio / Sea Star Boutique / A Place on Earth / Patricia Jackson Jewelers / Linen Ladies.

November 30th, 2014



by joel roberts

The summer crowds may be long gone from Cape May, the historic resort beach town at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, but for a weekend in November each year (and a second weekend in May) the town is filled by an eager throng of jazz fans from New York, Philly and beyond for the Exit 0 Jazz Festival. This year's festival (Nov. 7th-9th) kicked off on Friday night with The Cookers, the allstar group of jazz veterans featuring Donald Harrison, Billy Harper and Eddie Henderson, at the event's main venue, Convention Hall, which sits directly on the Cape May boardwalk. Unfortunately for many fans coming from out of town, the early start time, 6:30 pm, made for late arrivals and only a brief peek at the hard-hitting band. Any disgruntlement, however, was soon appeased by singer René Marie. Backed by a stellar quartet that she gave plenty of room to roam, Marie performed a focused, intense set drawn mostly from her recent tribute to Eartha Kitt. Eschewing imitation of Kitt's highly distinctive style (save for a purring spoken intro to Kitt's trademark "I Wanna Be Evil"), Marie tackled tunes associated with the late singer/actress, including "C'est Si Bon", "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "Peel Me a Grape", which Marie turned into an uproarious and commanding anthem of female empowerment. A forceful stage presence, when she sings the line, "When I say do it, jump to it", you know she means business. Marie, who doesn't shy away from disclosing her personal struggles and demons, closed her engaging set with some as-yet-unrecorded original compositions, including the heartrending "Go Home" and uplifting "Blessings".

Saturday night's early headliner was the young New Orleans-born phenom (and New York resident of several years) Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human. An accomplished pianist and singer and member of one of the Crescent City's most esteemed musical families, Batiste performs mostly traditional tunes drawn from the New Orleans canon, but with an entirely modern attitude. Above all, he's an entertainer with tons of charisma and obvious crossover appeal- something jazz sorely needs. He opened his eclectic show with, of all things, a solo piano version of "The Star Spangled Banner", played with dramatic classical and Gershwin-esque flourishes, which quickly established the Juilliard-trained artist's pianistic bonafides. After that, he brought his band (saxophone, tuba, electric guitar, drums) onstage for thoroughly deconstructed and unpredictable readings of classic
fare like Jelly Roll Morton's "New Orleans Blues" and Scott Joplin's ragtime classic "The Entertainer", which delved into free jazz territory. By the set's end, Batiste was leading his band and the audience on a swinging second line through the hall, a fitting and ecstatic conclusion to a memorable performance.

Veteran pianist Monty Alexander followed with his Harlem-Kingston Express-a jazz trio set up to the leader's right and a reggae quartet to his left. The band alternates between the two styles, often within a single tune, playing separately, or, somewhat too infrequently, together. Between anecdotes about how he was discovered in the early '60s by Frank Sinatra while playing in a Miami club frequented by gangsters, Alexander delivered an energetic set that reached its pinnacle in a rousing version of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry". Still, fans longing to hear more of
Alexander's celebrated straightahead jazz piano chops were left wanting.

Besides the headliners, the festival featured a wide variety of jazz, blues and funk acts in the clubs along Beach Avenue. Aleathea's, a restaurant in a stately Victorian hotel, hosted an overflow afternoon crowd for a winning set by the Aaron Parks piano trio, with bassist Ben Street and the great drummer Billy Hart. New York stalwart Johnny O'Neal brought his vintage swing and bebop piano and vocals to the same venue for an entertaining late-night show. Some unexpected highlights included the Feedel Band, a brass-heavy group of Ethiopian musicians playing Fela Kutiinspired
Afrobeat in the Boiler Room, a club in the basement of the historic Congress Hall hotel; and a fine straightahead quartet led by a pair of Rowan University jazz educators, guitarist Brian Betz and baritone saxophonist Denis DiBlasio.

While some more afternoon events and slightly more adventurous programming would be welcome, the Exit 0 festival is a great destination for metro New York jazz fans looking for a weekend getaway. Cape May is a manageable, walkable town with excellent restaurants, charming Victorian architecture and, on at least two weekends a year, some great jazz.

© richard conde photography
René Marie

April 16th, 2014

March 29th, 2014

Cape May N.J jazz fest expands to springtime

Cape May, N.J. jazz fest expands to springtime
Saturday March 29, 2014 12:01 AM
By Don Botch
Related Links
On the web – For more on the Exit 0 International Jazz Festival, including links to lodging alternatives, see

The burgeoning Exit 0 International Jazz Festival in Cape May, N.J., expands to springtime this year with a big weekend of music scheduled for May 30 through June 1.

Reading native and West Cape May resident Michael Kline, who runs the festival, which has been held the past two Novembers, said he always envisioned an outdoor component to Exit 0 that isn’t feasible at that time of year.

“When I think about festivals that I’ve been to, obvious ones that stand out are New Orleans, Monterey and Newport,” he said, “and these iconic festivals, all of which are held in the spring or summer, feature outdoor stages plus full vendor components including arts and crafts and food that speak to a region or a community.”

Exit 0 will follow that model with Jazz at the Estate, a Saturday afternoon of music at the Emlen Physick Estate, a landmark property in the heart of the Victorian resort town.

Jazz at the Estate will run from noon to 6 p.m. and feature performances by 16-year-old violinist Daisy Castro and her band; Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, who appear regularly in the speakeasy scenes of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”; Matuto, the Brazilian hillbilly funk outfit who performed in Reading as part of the 2013 Bandshell Concert Series; and Jon Cleary, whom Kline regards as “one of the truly great New Orleans piano players.”

Adding to the local flavor, a number of Garden State wineries will be on hand that day, and the Cape May Brewery will be launching a beer named after the jazz festival.

“We’re really going to show off what Cape May and South Jersey are all about,” Kline said.

The festival kicks off Friday night with a headline performance in Convention Hall by Grammy and Tony-winning singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. Saturday night’s headliner will be Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove. To wrap things up on Sunday night, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers will present “A Night in New Orleans,” which benefits the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts.

In addition, clubs throughout town will be hopping all weekend, presenting diverse artists such as the Gerald Clayton Trio, Red Baraat, Gregoire Maret, Tia Fuller, Cintron, Johnny Rawls, Kellylee Evans, Fredericks Brown and Roberta Gambarini. A $38 Pops Pass purchased by May 29 (or $48 thereafter) provides unlimited access to the club shows.

An all-access, three-day Duke’s Pass, which includes all headliners, club access and Jazz at the Estate, costs $179. An all-access Count’s Pass for Friday and Saturday only costs $145. A la carte pricing is also available for individual events. For details, see

Kline said additional outdoor events, including brass band parades and a gospel concert on the seaside lawn of Congress Hall, are in the works.

The fact that the festival will take place as the summer tourism season gets going is a bonus.

“There are going to be a lot of people in Cape May that weekend who are going to happen upon this festival just by chance,” Kline said. “I think that’s

really exciting. It’s kind of cool that you’re going to be able to hear music all around Cape May that entire weekend, just walking down the street.”

Contact Don Botch: 610-371-5055 or

March 29th, 2014

Exit 0


Since its debut in 2012, the Exit Zero Jazz Festival has quickly become an attraction for world class musicians and music aficionados alike. During the Festival weekend, Cape May transforms into a jazz village as fans and musicians make their pilgrimage to the little town by the sea to witness first-rate performances from award winning, critically acclaimed artists, exciting new artists on the scene, and local favorites. JazzTimes said of the Festival weekend it must be like that in Sundance when Hollywood comes to their town.

Festival Office for Tickets & Information

Press Inquiries
Janlyn PR, 347-726-8325.

Exit Zero Jazz also wishes to thank personally the following people for their belief in the Festival and how it creates a positive cultural and economic impact for Cape May and the surrounding community: Deacon and Dixie Kline, Wendy Guiles, Will Pike, Joe Carney, Chuck and Hillary Pritchard, John Cooke, Robert Giddis, Sue Priester, Edward J. Mahaney, Jr., Jerome E. Inderwies, Jr., Beatrice Gauvry-Pessagno, Shane P. Meier, Frank Scott, Bernadette Matthews, Jack Wright, Payton Bowman, Jason Black, Curtis Bashaw, Susan & Bryant Simon, Susan Ross, Milt Edelman, Pam Kaithern, Larry Hirsch, Stevan Overby, Yogi Kuertz, Michael Zuckerman, Sue Lotozo, Eliza Lotozo, Eric Wright, Carol Sabo, Jana La Sorte, Erika Duffee, Heather Saul, Ernest Gregory, Richard Conde, George Wirt, Thomas Von Muenster, Colleen Buckley, Mike Bernstein, Joanne and Dan Long, The O’Hara Family, Bill Bezaire, Chris Bezaire, Linda and Bob Steenrod, Patrick Logue, Cindy Smylick, Lori Francis, Christian Jacopec, Jana Herzen, Robin Tomchin, Chris DiAntonio, Todd Desatnick, Bill & Dorrie Laufman and so many more. Thank you!


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