Tradition takes time and through that time the dream weathers the tests that will one day allow it to stand alone. Tradition is not a task for the faint-hearted but is best relegated to the visionaries who recognize its value and grasp the baton as it is passed.
In Atlanta, the gateway city to the South, the bastion of tradition has long been the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival in the country. It is truly the hallmark of legacy heralding the vision of Mayor Maynard Jackson that began in 1974. It took four years of planning before the then Bureau of Cultural Affairs would launch the inaugural festival in 1978. Not without its obstacles, its success established the foundation upon which forty consecutive festivals have presented this music to admiring and adoring fans.
For 40 years, 5 mayors, Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed, 4 decades of City Council men and women and 7 directors of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Robert Lomax, Shirley Franklin, Tom Cullen, Shirley Cooks, Harriet Sanford, Barbara Bowser and Camille Russell Love have kept jazz a vibrant invitation and welcome to the city each year. They have given opportunity to more than a 1000 jazz musicians and vocalists to grace the stages of the Atlanta Jazz Festival before millions of spectators.
Without their staunch support and hard work, the ever-evolving festival would not have been able to give visibility to venues around the city during the 31 Days of Jazz that precedes each Memorial Day weekend festivities. Nor would they have been able to have more than a 100 middle and high school bands compete each spring in the Youth Jazz Band Competition to win a coveted performance spot on the main stage to open each day of the festival.
Over the years without the support over the decades with staff like Michael Lomax, Malcolm Johnson, Joe Jennings, Kole Eaton, Ebon Dooley, Mitchell Feldman, Rob Gibson and John Armwood, festival managers Alonzo Craig and Melissa Laurenceau, project supervisor Nnena Nchege who ran logistics & 31 Days or Valarie Benning Barney responsible for sponsorship & marketing, there wouldn’t be current project coordinator Herman Wilson.
7 photographers have been primarily responsible for documenting festival’s growth: Jim Alexander, Sheila Pree Bright, Michael Reese, Sue Ross, Eric Waters, Julie Yarbrough and Ernest Gregory. With the onset of the internet hundreds more amateur and professional photographers have shared their photos and videos across multiple platforms.
The media has played an important part of getting the message to the people and we recognize radio sponsors WVEE 103FM, WCLK 91.9FM, 94Q Jazz Flavours, WRFG 89.3FM, WJZF, WALR/Kiss 104.1, WABE-PBA, WJZZ 107.5, 790 The Zone, as well as radio personalities Ernest Gregory and perennial emcee, John Armwood, Bobby Jackson, Steve Bowser, Phil Clore, Carl Anthony, H. Johnson, Riva Blue, and Jamal Ahmad among numerous others, who have lent their voice and time volunteering. Print media sponsors have been Creative Loafing, Jazziz, Jazz Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jezebel Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, Rolling Out, Abyss Jazz Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Atlanta Tribune The Magazine, Southwest Atlanta Magazine, and television sponsors MediaOne, BET on Jazz, WSB TV, Mundo Hispanico, and Comcast.
Last but never the least, we must never forget to give thanks to the thousands of volunteers, aptly dubbed Jazzteers by Nnena Nchege in 2005, who over forty years have unselfishly given their time to insure the success of the festival. Without their help the behind the scenes production activities that make operations run smoothly would not happen. They have are a vital component to each year’s event.
The Atlanta Jazz Festival is the acknowledged largest continuous free jazz event in North America and contributes greatly to the success of the city’s tourism, hospitality and community. Standing alongside all of the men and women who have been proud to have supported this tradition and are currently a part of this annual endeavor, it has been a privilege and an honor to be numbered among this cast.
This 40th year anniversary celebration lineup includes performers who graced the stage the very first year, those who have performed over the years and those who are first time initiates. They are the Pedrito Martinez Group, the Robert Glasper Experiment, the Allan Harris Band, Regina Carter: Simply Ella, Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet, Reńe Marie and Experiment in Truth, Charles Lloyd Sky Trio, Moonchild, Nik West, Nicholas Payton Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, Macy Gray, Little Tybee, Harriet Tubman: The Band, Deva Mahal, Marquis Hill Blacktet, the Miles Davis Electric Band Tribute All Star Jam with Lil’ John Roberts feat. Russell Gunn and Miles Davis band member Mino Cinelu, Dwight Andrews, Joe Jennings & Howard Nicholson’s Life Force, Celebrating Sarah: Kathleen Bertrand & Friends Honor Sarah Vaughan, the Joe Gransden Big Band with Alexandra Jackson, the Ojeda Penn Experience with Jean Carne, Freddy Cole, Frank Houston, Kemba Cofield, Darren English, Cleveland P. Jones, Julie Dexter and Jacob Deaton Duo featuring Rasheeda Ali, Mamaniji Azanyah & Mastery, Russell Gunn & African Drums meets Kebbi Williams’ Wolf Pack and Mausiki Scales & Common Ground featuring Giwayen Mata.
Sponsors & Partners of the 2017 Atlanta Jazz Festival are Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka, Resurgens Atlanta, Bank of America, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, City of Atlanta, Publix Supermarket Charities, Marta, Fontis Mountain Spring Water, Lyft, Loews Atlanta Hotel, and Sprouts Farmers Market.
The Official Print partner is Creative Loafing and the Official Radio Partner is WCLK 91.9FM #AJF40
It’s the Gateway to the South where this Jazz Voyager is heading in anticipation of a great jazz weekend at the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont park. The festival turns 40 this year and there’s no other place to be than in the park celebrating this anniversary. For those veterans who’ve been there, you know No charcoal, only gas grills and no dogs allowed on the festival grounds.
For the initiates, be for-warned as the vets know you have to get in early to get your ideal spot for lawn chairs and blankets, tents, food and grills. There’s going to be thousands of folks gathering once again to celebrate this banner year of the festival. Bring plenty of water to keep hydrated and watch your children. Don’t want any lost boys and girls. Other than that, check out the lineup below, print a copy and see you there. Enjoy yourself!!!
Saturday, May 27th – Legends Stage:
The Allan Harris Band | 1:00pm
Regina Carter: Simply Ella | 3:00pm
Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet | 5:00pm
Reńe Marie and Experiment in Truth | 7:00pm
Charles Lloyd Sky Trio | 9:00pm
Late Night Jazz Jam: Park Tavern at Piedmont Park
The Miles Davis Electric Band Tribute All Star Jam with Lil’ John Roberts feat. Russell Gunn and Miles Davis band member Mino Cinelu | 11:00pm
Sunday May 28th – Legends Stage:
Dwight Andrews | 1:00pm
Joe Jennings & Howard Nicholson’s Life Force | 3:00pm
Celebrating Sarah: Kathleen Bertrand & Friends Honor Sarah Vaughan | 5:00pm
The Joe Gransden Big Band with Alexandra Jackson | 7:00pm
The Ojeda Penn Experience with Jean Carne | 8:00pm
Freddy Cole | 9:00pm
Frank Houston | 1:30pm
Kemba Cofield | 2:15pm
Darren English | 3:00pm
Cleveland P. Jones | 3:45pm
Julie Dexter and Jacob Deaton Duo featuring Rasheeda Ali | 4:30pm
Mamaniji Azanyah & Mastery | 5:15pm
Russell Gunn & African Drums meets Kebbi Williams’ Wolf Pack | 6:15pm
Mausiki Scales & Common Ground featuring Giwayen Mata | 7:30pm
The Jazz Voyager is heading to the eastern Mediterranean for some jazz on the island of Cypress. Nestled on the southern coast of the island is the city of Limassol, where my travels end listening to jazz at a wine bar called Vinylio.
Hosting regular jazz nights within its warm, atmospheric interior one can retreat from the chilly evenings. With candlelight flickering across the walls I look forward to enjoying the music of popular local bands such as Mood Indigo or Ioanna Troullidou & George Morfitis.
Vinylio is open 7:00pm until 1:00am and is located in the old town of Limassol at 33 Agkiris St, Limassol. For more information on who’s playing live jazz every Friday and Saturday night, the number is (+357) 96-810119.
Last year signaled the mounting of the 39th time that Office of Cultural Affairs, under the current Director Camille Russell Love leadership, that she and her staff brought local favorites, emerging musicians and national performers to Piedmont Park for the 2016 jazz festival weekend that ran from May 27th – 29th.
Thousands turned out to grill, eat and sit on blankets, lawn chairs and under tents before three stages, Legends, International and Local to enjoy as eyewitnesses the talents of Alex Lattimore, Anonymous DaBand, Assaf Kehati, Band Room Nation, Camila Meza, Chandra Currelley, Chargaux, Daby Touré, Eliane Elias, Enoch, Etienne Charles, Eugenie Jones, Gregory Porter, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Jamison Ross, Joe Alterman, JOI, King Ace Beats, KP the Great, Mabu’s Ark Band, Mette Henriette, Navy Bound Southeast V.I.P. Protocol Combo, Next Collective, Rialto Jazz for Kids, Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra, Tatran, The Benny Golson Quartet, The Headhunters, Theo Croker, and Tomeka Reid
Drummer Lil John Roberts and trumpeter Russell Gunn Quartet hosted respective nights of the Late Night Jazz Jam.
Sponsors for this year’s festival were Bank of America, Publix, PNC Bank, Loews Atlanta Hotel, MARTA, Cantoni, The Coca-Cola Company and the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. #AJF40
With reservations made at 313-882-5299, this Jazz Voyager is all set to head out to Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan for some dinner and jazz Tuesday night with the Charles Boles Quartet at the The Dirty Dog Jazz Café located at 97 Kercheval Avenue, 48236, just thirteen miles from Detroit.
Seating just 65 diners and jazz enthusiasts each night, one is afforded the opportunity to enjoy legends, icons, and greenhorns of the jazz world. The café is modeled after an English pub, so there are lots of dark wood leather seats and lots of deep reds. The cuisine is upscale and eclectic and the music is live in this intimate space. Be warned music is played through dinner from 6:00pm – 9:00pm, so there just may be some chatter, hopefully not too loud.