The City of Atlanta is gearing up for its 35th Atlanta Jazz Festival this Memorial Day Weekend. The event is the largest free jazz festival in the country and annually attracts a notable line-up of established, emerging, local talent and ten of thousands of fans to the lush lawns of Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta.
The festival was started in 1978 as part of then Mayor Maynard Jackson’s vision for preserving the musical genre and shining an international, cultural spotlight on Atlanta. Said Jackson, “Jazz music is America’s only original art form, and I think Atlanta, with its growing reputation as an international center of the arts and education, has both the opportunity and the responsibility to promote an art form whose roots are indigenous to the South.”
This year’s Main Stage line-up includes vibraphonist Roy Ayers,
The Cyrus Chestnut Trio, as well as the Atlanta-based performers Dwight Andrews and Kathleen Bertrand. Additionally, Tito Puente, Jr. picks up the drumsticks of his father as he brings his own orchestra to the stage.
The official days of the Atlanta Jazz Festival are May 26–28th, but according to Camille Russell Love, Director Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, this is actually a month-long celebration. “We are renaming May this year and we’ll call it ‘31 Days of Jazz’,” said Love. “We’ve got something for everyone, from the soulful sounds of the Mose Davis Trio at Sun Dial, to spicy Latin jazz at Fiesta Atlanta in Centennial Park, to legendary pianist Johnny O’Neal at the Loews Atlanta Hotel. We hope that people will get out and explore some new hot spots and eateries around the city, and truly get into the community spirit of the festival.”