by liza mitchell
From an architectural perspective, the Jacksonville skyline is the perfect backdrop for the 2010 Jacksonville Jazz Festival with its eclectic mix of contemporary angles and neoclassical designs.
Musically, the lineup is equally unique, with artists known for their smooth jazz standards and Latin-infused styles to pop flavors and the big brass sounds of New Orleans.
Multiple stages with such names as the Groovin’ Stage, Breezin’ Stage, Swingin’ Stage and the River Stage will be positioned at various locations throughout the heart of downtown Jacksonville. Participants can enjoy live music while strolling past some of the city’s most revered landmarks.
Performers include nationally recognized artists Chris Botti, Tito Puente Jr., Spyro Gyro and Patti LaBelle. Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Joe Balone Trio, Isaac Byrd & Tribe Judah, Buckwheat Zydeco, the Superstars of Jazz and local chanteuse Jordyn Jackson also perform. See schedule for the full performance line up at each venue.
Jackson, 26, of Jacksonville Beach is embarking on a solo career after recently parting ways with the alt-rock outfit Veronica’s Veil. She recorded her solo album, Last September in the Garden, in 2009 at the Fudge Recording Studio in New Orleans. This is Jackson’s first appearance at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival where she will be joined by musicians Jake Smith on acoustic guitar, Joseph Walker on electric guitar, Darren Phipps on bass and drummer Chris Arceneaux, all of whom hail from the Big Easy and contributed on her solo release.
Local musicians Johnny Flood on saxophone and Ray Callender on trumpet with violinist Pasha Sabouri of Texas will also perform with Jackson.
“This is the first time I have played a festival of this size so I’m so excited,” Jackson said in a recent interview. “It’s the first time for me to have a band of this magnitude behind me. I hope it will open doors to perform at other festivals and introduce new fans to my music.”
As an aspiring artist, Jackson said she welcomes any opportunity offering a creative release. Fronting Veronica’s Veil allowed her to break free from her comfort zone of pop and jazz but, ultimately, she said she needed to pursue her own artistic vision.
“It was a struggle because my voice was always drowned out by the guitars. It was really a fun experience but it never really suited my goal as a singer,” Jackson said. “I wanted to record an album that really featured my vocals. Ballads are my favorite to sing. I enjoy the challenge and I want to challenge myself.”
Growing up, Jackson said she taught herself to sing by emulating Whitney Houston and counts Christina Aguilera, Freddie Mercury, Eva Cassidy and Robert Plant among her influences.
Professionally, she hopes to take the same path as contemporary crooner Michael Buble’ whom she admires for his ability to strike the perfect balance between the jazz standards and mainstream pop music.
“My dad always said my voice sounded best doing jazz and pop songs. Of course, I didn’t listen to him,” laughed Jackson. “But now I feel that’s the direction I’m meant for.”
The Jacksonville Jazz Festival will also offer art exhibits, wine tasting, performance competitions, free jazz talks at the MOCA Jacksonville Theater and a Jacksonville Jazz Hall of Fame display.
Two Jacksonville jazz greats will also be honored for their contributions to the city. Bob Bednar and Na’im Rashid are recognized among the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees.
As host of the radio program “This is Jazz” for 20 years, Bednar works to promote and support local jazz efforts. He is also a well-respected player in the local music community where he is known for his skills as a jazz drummer.
Rashid served as host of the Jazz Jam at the historic Ritz Theatre where he is active in the newly established Ritz Jazz Society of Jacksonville. He is also a noted emcee at past jazz festivals and past member of the judging panel for the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition.
On Thursday May 27, the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition kicks off at 7 pm at the Florida Theatre, located at 128 E. Forsyth Street. Participants will compete for a $3,500 prize and the opportunity to perform Saturday on the Swingin’ Stage on Monroe Street. Local musician Noel Freidline will emcee the event. General admission tickets are $10.
The Wine Down Tasting Experience is held three different days: Friday, May 28 from 5 to 10 pm; Saturday, May 29 from noon to 10 pm and Sunday, May 30 from noon to 6 pm at Laura Street between Monroe and Duval. Tickets are $20 and include six samples of featured wines and a limited edition wine glass.
The ‘Round Midnight Jam is held from 10 pm to 2 am Saturday, May 29 at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel, the official host hotel of the festival, at 245 Water Street. The Kelly/Scott Quintet host the event. Admission is free.
Art in the Heart of Jacksonville Show & Sale will showcase the work of artists and craftsman in a variety of mediums along Adams Street from Laura to Main streets. Admission is free. Judging will be held from 5 to 8 pm Friday, May 28.
Festival parking will be available along Laura Street at the MOCA Jacksonville, Main Library and Snyder Memorial Church; Hemming Plaza, Main Street and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. Parking will be available on Saturday at the Riverside Arts Market. A map of the parking sites and fees is available at www.jaxjazzfest.com. A Jazz Trolley will shuttle festival goers to their destination from 11 am to 8 pm May 29 and 30. Cost is $1 per one-way ride ticket and $5 wristbands are available for a weekend pass and can be purchased at all trolley stops.