The 2017 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Swings Thru Downtown May 25-27

Jon Batiste stepped into the crowd while performing at 2016's Jacksonville Jazz Fest // Photo by Brandi Hill

When tradition is used as a guidebook, it leaves space for change and limitless growth potential. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is a Memorial Day tradition that continues to evolve with the changing face of the Downtown area.

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As one of the largest jazz festivals in the country, the 2017 Jacksonville Jazz Festival brings the city streets to life May 25-27 with a vibrant street festival atmosphere. Experience the thrill of live music on three stages, local food, art, the Jazz Marketplace, and more, throughout 15 blocks of Downtown Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Jazz Festival, City of Jacksonville, Florida

This year, the Jazz Festival lineup include such legendary artists as The Commodores, Chick Corea Trio, Kamasi Washington, Gregory Porter, Lalah Hathaway, The Rippingtons, Jane Monheit, Joey Alexander Trio, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Lucky Chops, Damien Escobar, Bria Skonberg, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Freddy Cole Quartet, Morgan James, Elew, Airmen of Note, Marcus Anderson, Doug Carn West Coast Organ band, Jazzmeia Horn, Roman Street, Sorin Zlat Trio, Gregory Agid Quartet, Clay Benjamin, Ben Adkins, Leon Foster Thomas, Brian Tarquin, The Katz Downstairs, Taylor Roberts, Parker Urban Band, Akia Uwanda, Elio’s Quartet, Party in a Box featuring Allana Southerland, Blake Aaron, Brandon Robertson, Catch the Groove, Jax Jazz Collective, Stank Sauce, DJ Nickfresh and the UNF Jazz Ensemble.

The festival kicks off with the annual Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. The event dates back to 1983 when it was called the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. It has been held at the Florida Theatre since 1984.

Other festival activities include the Jazz Jam, the Omni Sacred Jazz Brunch at the Omni Hotel and Jazz Fest After Dark hosted at various downtown venues.

While the jazz fest was staged at different venues over the years from its humble beginnings in the Mayport fishing village in 1981 to a ticketed event at Metropolitan Park, it came into its own when it was reimagined in 2009 as a free, walkable street festival throughout the downtown corridor.

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival begins as the Mayport and All That Jazz Festival in 1981

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival began as the Mayport and All That Jazz Festival. Former Mayor Jake Godbold founded the event as a way to reintroduce the world to the Bold New City of the South and reinvigorate the struggling fishing community of Mayport. Festival producers were floored when their expected attendance of a few hundred topped nearly 25,000 spectators who turn out to see Dizzy Gillespie headline. Other notable headliners throughout the years have included Branford Marsalis, Buddy Guy, Ray Charles and Mavis Staples.

After the overwhelming attendance and an even higher expected turnout in year two, festival organizers move the festival to the newly opened Metropolitan Park.

After the overwhelming attendance and an even higher expected turnout in the second year, festival organizers relocated the festival to the newly opened Metropolitan Park. Local churches and organizations raised money by selling food and drinks, allowing the festival to remain free to the public.

In 1986 Miles Davis headlines, charging more than three times the rate of headliners just years prior.

As the Jacksonville Jazz Festival continued to grow, it drew such headliners as Miles Davis and Tony Bennett. The headliners had big ticket booking fees which resulted in the jazz festival briefly becoming a ticketed event.

Although the event has changed, the tradition of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival remains a strong and vital thread in the city’s rich, cultural history. Its position along the St. Johns River is expected to help draw thousands of jazz fans to Jacksonville and continues to enrich the revitalization efforts in the downtown core.

TRANSPORTATION INFO

SCHEDULE

Thursday, May 25

Schedule MAP

FLORIDA THEATRE

Schedule  Piano Competition

Presented by Keyboard Connection
7:00pm

Hosted by Courtney Lewis

Music Director, Conductor
Jacksonville Symphony

Friday, May 26

Festival Hours: 4 pm – Midnight  |  Music starts at 5 pm

Schedule MAP

MAIN STREET

Schedule  Swingin’ Stage

Presented by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority
5:00 – 5:30pm

DJ NickFresh

5:30 – 6:30pm

Jazzmeia Horn

7:30 – 8:30pm

ELEW

9:00 – 10:00pm

Damien Escobar

10:30 – Midnight

Lucky Chops

HEMMING PARK

Schedule  Groovin’ Stage

Presented by Aetna
5:00 – 6:00pm

Catch The Groove

6:30 – 7:30pm

Freddy Cole Quartet

8:00 – 9:00pm

Jane Monheit

9:30 – 11:00pm

The Blind Boys of Alabama

JACKSONVILLE LANDING

Schedule  Breezin’ Stage

5:30 – 6:30pm

Jax Jazz Collective

7:00 – 8:00pm

Blake Aaron

8:30 – 9:30pm

Parker Urban Band

10:00 – 11:00pm

Marcus Anderson

HYATT REGENCY

Schedule  Jazz Jam Session

Presented by Hot 99.5
10:00pm – 1:00am

Hosted by The Kelly/Scott Quintet

Saturday, May 27

Festival Hours: 1 pm – Midnight  |  Music starts at 2 pm

Schedule MAP

MAIN STREET

Schedule  Swingin’ Stage

Presented by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority
2:00 – 2:30pm

Jazz Piano Competition Winner

3:00 – 4:00pm

Akia Uwanda

4:30 – 6:00pm

Roman Street

6:30 – 8:00pm

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

8:30 – 10:00pm

Gregory Porter

10:30 – Midnight

Kamasi Washington

HEMMING PARK

Schedule  Groovin’ Stage

Presented by Aetna
2:00 – 3:00pm

Leon Foster Thomas

3:30 – 4:30pm

Taylor Roberts

5:00 – 6:30pm

Morgan James

7:00 – 8:30pm

Airmen of Note Band

9:00 – 10:30pm

The Rippingtons

10:30 – Midnight

Main Stage Video Stream

JACKSONVILLE LANDING

Schedule  Breezin’ Stage

2:00 – 3:00pm

Ben Adkins

3:30 – 4:30pm

Elio’s Quartet

5:00 – 6:00pm

Stank Sauce

6:30 – 7:30pm

Party in a Box feat. Allana Southerland

8:00 – 9:30pm

Clay Benjamin

10:00 – 11:30

Eric Carter

THE RITZ THEATRE & MUSEUM

Schedule  Jazz Fest Clinic

10:00am – 11:00am

Elio Piedra (Drums)

11:00am – Noon

Jazzmeia Horn (Vocals)

Noon – 1:00pm

Eric Carter (Guitar)

Sunday, May 28

Festival Hours: 1 pm – 11 pm  |  Music starts at 2 pm

Schedule MAP

MAIN STREET

Schedule  Swingin’ Stage

Presented by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority
2:30 – 3:30pm

UNF Jazz Ensemble I

4:00 – 5:00pm

Sorin Zlat Trio

5:30 – 7:00pm

Joey Alexander Trio

7:30 – 9:00pm

Chick Corea Trio

9:30 – 11:00pm

The Commodores

HEMMING PARK

Schedule  Groovin’ Stage

Presented by Aetna
2:00 – 3:00pm

Gregory Agid Quartet

3:30 – 5:00pm

Pacific Mambo Orchestra

5:00 – 5:30pm

Second Line Jazz Parade

6:00 – 7:30pm

Bria Skonberg

8:00 – 9:30pm

Lalah Hathaway

9:30 – 11:00pm

Main Stage Video Stream

JACKSONVILLE LANDING

Schedule  Breezin’ Stage

2:00 – 3:00pm

Brandon Robertson

3:30 – 4:30pm

Brian Tarquin

5:00 – 6:30pm

Doug Carn West Coast Organ Band

7:00 – 8:30pm

The Katz Downstairz

OMNI HOTEL

Schedule  Omni Sacred Jazz Brunch

Presented by Omni Hotels & Resorts
11:00am – 2:00pm

Noel Freidline Quintet featuring vocalist Maria Howell

CORNER OF MONROE & LAURA STREETS

Schedule  Second Line Jazz Parade

Presented by V101.5
5:00 – 5:30pm

Second Line Jazz Parade

*Performers, lineup and schedule subject to change
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About Liza Mitchell

october, 2021

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