Jazz in the Park: Atlanta Jazz Festival treats audience to priceless lineup

Carol Banks Weber - AXS Contributor
By: AXS Contributor May 15, 2014
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The artists in Atlanta Jazz Festival’s lineup come from everywhere to put on a free, priceless jazz show in Piedmont Park for May 23-25 Memorial Day Weekend. There’s an amazing but unassuming young man who plays unearthly jazz on a harp, the next Sarah Vaughan in the loveliest of French/Dominican presentation, the transcendent independent party who took HBO’s "Treme" by storm, a Grammy-nominated musicians’ favorite, and the kids.

“This year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival promises to be one of our best,” enthused Camille Russell Love, director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “We are presenting a diverse lineup of artists from around the world, and because we are blessed with a wealth of talent here in Atlanta, we’ve added a third stage in Piedmont Park for local artists. As always, admission to the festival is free. Make plans now to join us for an unforgettable weekend of jazz!”

The following unforgettable acts in the slideshow should not be missed.

Check the 37th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival website or Facebook for frequent updates.

  • 5.Rialto Jazz for Kids
    Jazz stars get their start from solid music education programs — if they’re lucky, mentors, and supportive parents. Luckily, the elementary
    via iRockJazz

    Jazz stars get their start from solid music education programs — if they’re lucky, mentors, and supportive parents. Luckily, the elementary and middle school students in the Rialto Jazz for Kids program have all three. The ongoing series of comprehensive jazz education programs enable students from select middle schools in the metro-Atlanta area to receive tutoring in the music arts. The Rialto Jazz for Kids All-Star Band is made up of only the most advanced music students from the program’s five middle schools partnered up. Members of the RJK Jazz Quintet — all qualified, established musician-Masters of Music educators — nurture the jazz combos from each participating middle school until they are confident and rehearsed enough to perform at the Rialto Theater. Under the direction of Dr. Gordon Vernick, the Rialto Jazz for Kids All-Star Jazz Band takes the Local Stage May 25, 12:30 p.m.

  • 4.Cyrille Aimée
    In the fall of 2012, Cyrille Aimée took the stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, breezed through “I’m Beginning To See The Light,
    Lyle Daniel

    In the fall of 2012, Cyrille Aimée took the stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, breezed through “I’m Beginning To See The Light,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” “I’m Through With Love,” and it was all over. She’d won the first-ever Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in the finale of the James Moody Democracy Festival of Jazz. The daughter of a French father and a Dominican mother, Aimée seemed born to the role. She grew up in the village of Samois-sur-Seine, where gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt lived. Interestingly, Aimée traveled much as a gypsy jazz artist throughout Europe with her other musician pals, performing on streets for spare change, room and board, and food, while playing festivals. Before she won that big prize, Aimée subsisted on a few self-productions. Her first major release, “It’s A Good Day [February 2014],” gave credence to all that hard work and an immense wellspring of talent. She’s on the International Stage May 25, 5:30 p.m.

  • 3.Edmar Castañeda Trio
    Dude, just come see what Edmar Castañeda can do with jazz on the harp. Born in 1978, in Bogotá, Colombia, Castaneda took his humble but imme
    Photo courtesy of Atlanta Jazz Festival

    Dude, just come see what Edmar Castañeda can do with jazz on the harp. Born in 1978, in Bogotá, Colombia, Castaneda took his humble but immensely striking upbringing with the native joropo dance and folklore, and cross-pollinated those with his new love of jazz by way of New York (he moved there in the mid-1990s to further explore). He started off on trumpet, blowing jazz notes, when he saw possibility in the harp. Wise decision. The sounds he can make on that thing are unreal, drawing from both worlds. Tad Hendrickson in The Wall Street Journal [Nov. 15, 2012] wrote: “Mr. Castañeda strummed, plucked, rubbed, jabbed and pounded on his cobalt blue Llanera harp as he conjured different shaped notes, harmonic textures and steady bass rhythms from the instrument’s 34 strings. About the only thing he didn’t do was light it on fire.” Yep. That about covers it. He covers every possible groove on the International Stage, May 24, 1:30 p.m.

  • 2.Roberta Gambarini Quartet
    Italian jazz singer Roberta Gambarini’s time has more than come. She put out a 2010 Grammy-nominated album, “So In Love,” her third, which i
    Keith Tsuji

    Italian jazz singer Roberta Gambarini’s time has more than come. She put out a 2010 Grammy-nominated album, “So In Love,” her third, which is still doing well. “So In Love” also nabbed the Jazz Academy of France’s Grand Prix du Jazz Vocal in 2009. Her debut album, “Easy To Love,” also received a much-deserved Grammy nomination. She understands the nature of jazz, having worked with the greats (Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut, Slide Hampton, Toots Thielemans, Paquito D’Rivera, Herbie Hancock, James Moody, Dave Brubeck). “It’s great to have the opportunity to record with people who are so intense that all they care about is to be in the moment. That’s the nature of this type of music that we call jazz or improvised music. You have to strive to be in the moment, and the moment is really all there is.” Jazz Journalists’ Association’s twice-voted “Female Jazz Singer of the Year” sings every moment accordingly. Catch her live on the Main Stage, May 23, 7 p.m.

  • 1.Late Night Love Riot with Jon Batiste & Stay Human
    Jon Batiste is hard to pin down. He’s good at more than one instrument, percussion, piano, B3, whatever’s at hand. He comes from a strong mu
    Tristan Fewings

    Jon Batiste is hard to pin down. He’s good at more than one instrument, percussion, piano, B3, whatever’s at hand. He comes from a strong musical lineage in Louisiana and has done much for the cause of New Orleans music and musicians, as well as the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. His strengths are in his diverse collaborations far and wide, his artful appeal (HBO’s Treme, Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer) as an actor and a film score composer/performer, and more importantly to those attending this festival, he’s the bomb at parties. His most recent collaborative invention, Stay Human, is the ultimate party band with a purpose. They love to reach out to their audience, feed off that energy to have a blast, sure, but also to deepen the connection between humankind and the art of live music. They’re liable to bust out with their patented “Love Riots” anywhere, it doesn’t matter the venue, the more immediate and unconventional the better. Their 2011 “Love Riots” album came about from those live, impromptu performances with the audience at hand — right near the NYC subway. Their new album, “Social Music,” enjoying the tour treatment, will definitely come out in full force at the band’s after party, aka “Late Night Love Riot,” May 24, 11 p.m. (doors open 10 p.m.), W Midtown Hotel Ballroom. This one’s not free, but worth every penny of the $35 (advance) and $40 (door). Plus, post-concert jazz party with DJ SpeakerFoxxx.

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