Jacksonville Jazz Festival in the Downtown Core

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Jacksonville transforms into Jazzville as horns, pianos, and jazz beats take over the downtown streets and music lovers come together to celebrate some of the best artists in the jazz industry. Billed as one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is the toast of the town every Memorial Day weekend.

Since its inception in 1981, thousands of jazz lovers from across the nation gather in Jacksonville to celebrate the music, culture, and art of jazz by the river. The 2016 Jacksonville Jazz Fest lineup includes Jon Batiste & Stay Human, Snarky Puppy, Somi, Yellowjackets, The Longineau Parsons Ensemble, The Dizzy Gillespie Band, Afro Cuban Experience, Christian Scott, and others on four stages throughout the Downtown core.

Hit the Swingin’ Stage at the corner of Main and Adams Street (next to Burrito Gallery where it was located until two years ago), groove under the trees at The Groovin’ Stage in Hemming Park, soak up the tunes with a waterfront view at The Breezin’ Stage at the Jacksonville Landing, and hear some expert ivory tickling at the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition Stage in the historic Florida Theatre.

New this year is the Jazz Marketplace with local artists, makers and vendors mingling with existing downtown establishments. Equal parts Art Walk and street bazaar, the Jazz Marketplace will feature jewelry, original art, local wares and other handcrafted items.

Keep the party going at the end of the day with Jazz Fest After Dark featuring more than 60 acts across 10 stages in downtown venues like The Volstead in Downtown Jacksonville, raindogs in Five Points, and The Parlour at Grape & Grain in San Marco.

Jazz Fest After Dark schedule here.

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“We’re thrilled about the exciting changes with the 2016 Jacksonville Jazz Festival,” says Mayor Lenny Curry. “The Jazz Festival is a signature event for the city with a rich history and a bright future. We are grateful for the many community stakeholders, sponsors, volunteers, and patrons who share our passion for its success.”

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival has been an integral part of the city’s culture for over 30 years and a vibrant showcase for its rich, storied jazz history. It started as a small one-day festival in the Mayport Fishing Village and later moved to Metropolitan Park before returning as a street festival in May of 2009. Despite changing venues, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival continues to evolve as a beloved family-friendly event.

The festival includes the Jazz Piano Competition hosted by Noel Freidline Thursday night at the historic Florida Theatre. The piano competition, which traditionally kicks off the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, dates back to 1983, when it was called the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Five finalists representing the very best jazz pianists in the world are chosen by a blind panel of judges to compete for a cash prize and a chance to perform on the Main Stage at this year’s festival. This competition has become a festival favorite among fans eager to experience some of the most incredible rising talent in the jazz world. Past judges include such jazz legends as Marcus Roberts, Brian Culbertson, Jason Miles, Joey Calderazzo, Lynne Arriale, Dr. John, Per Danielsson, and John Thomas.

Artists can participate in a Jazz Clinic Saturday morning at the Ritz Theatre and Museum. Further your jazz education and refine your chops at this free masterclass clinic featuring performers at this year’s festival. Aspiring and accomplished jazz musicians of all ages are invited to learn and grow their skills in an intimate setting. Space is limited. Participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments.

On Sunday, festival goers can experience the Omni Sacred Jazz Brunch at the Omni Hotel. A buffet of gourmet cuisine prepared by the expert chefs of the Omni Jacksonville Hotel as renowned jazz artists, the Noel Freidline Quartet perform their unique blend of jazz and traditional gospel music. Seating is limited.

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is free, but those looking for the ultimate fan experience can upgrade to the VIP Experience with a single day pass for $89 or enjoy all three days for $199. This includes exclusive up-front seating, reserved parking, food and beverage specials, dedicated VIP Bars, merchandise and more.

THURSDAY MAY 26

FLORIDA THEATRE

Piano Competition Presented by Keyboard Connection

7:00pm Host: Noel Freidline

FRIDAY, MAY 27

MAIN STREET

Swingin’ Stage Presented by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority

Snarky Puppy
Snarky Puppy
5:30 – 7:00pm Chris Godber
7:30 – 9:00pm Dr. John
9:30 – 11:00pm Snarky Puppy

 

HEMMING PARK

Groovin’ Stage

benny_golson_picture_from_concord
Benny Golson
5:00 – 6:00pm Longineu Parsons Ensemble
6:30 – 8:00pm Benny Golson Quartet
8:30 – 10:00pm McCoy Tyner

JACKSONVILLE LANDING

Breezin’ Stage

Spice & The Po Boys
Spice & The Po Boys
5:30 – 6:30pm UNF Jazz Ensemble I
7:00 – 8:30pm Spice & the Po’ Boys
9:00 – Midnight Jazz Jam Session
Hosted by the Lisa Kelly/JB Scott Quintet

 

SATURDAY MAY 28

MAIN STREET

Swingin’ Stage Presented by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority

John Batiste
John Batiste
2:30 – 3:00pm Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition winner
3:30 – 5:00pm Aaron Diehl Quartet feat. Warren Wolf
5:30 – 7:00pm Somi
7:30 – 9:00pm Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
9:30 – 11:00pm Jon Batiste & Stay Human

HEMMING PARK

Groovin’ Stage

Yellowjackets
Yellowjackets
2:00 – 3:00pm DA Jazz Band
3:30 – 5:00pm Charenée Wade
5:30 – 7:00pm Lizz Wright
7:30 – 9:00pm Ken Ford
9:30 – 11:00pm Yellowjackets

JACKSONVILLE LANDING

Breezin’ Stage

Generation Next
Generation Next
2:00 – 3:00pm The Jacksonville University Jazz Faculty
3:30 – 4:30pm The Chris Thomas Band
5:00 – 6:00pm Terry “Doc” Handy
6:30 – 7:30pm Mark Pender presented by Buffet Crampon
8:00 – 9:30pm Generation neXt featuring Nicholas Cole,
Lin Rountree & Lebron

THE RITZ THEATRE & MUSEUM

Jazz Fest Clinic Presented by Buffet Crampon

10:00 – 10:45am Mark Pender & Eric Carter
11:00 – 11:45am TBA

 

SUNDAY MAY 29

MAIN STREET

Swingin’ Stage Presented by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority

2:30 – 4:00pm John Lumpkin and The Covenant
4:30 – 6:00pm Cyrille Aimée
6:30 – 8:00pm Nathan East
8:30 – 10:00pm KEM

HEMMING PARK

Groovin’ Stage

2:30 – 4:00pm Eric Carter & Co.
4:30 – 6:00pm Jamison Ross
6:30 – 8:00pm Dizzy Gillespie™ Afro-Cuban Experience

JACKSONVILLE LANDING

Breezin’ Stage

2:00 – 3:00pm Jimmy Beats
3:30 – 4:30pm Gary Starling Group feat. Russell George
5:00 – 6:00pm Pierre & Co.
6:30 – 8:00pm Bobby Lee Rogers Jazz Trio

OMNI HOTEL

Omni Sacred Jazz Brunch Presented by Omni Hotels & Resorts

11:00am – 2:00pm The Noel Freidline Quintet
*Performers, lineup and schedule subject to change

 

About Liza Mitchell

october, 2021

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