Presented by the city’s Bureau Of Cultural Affairs, The Atlanta Jazz Festival is celebrating its 26th annivesary by expanding from last year’s 9 days to 26 days of jazz, beginning May 1st, and ending with the free Memorial Day Weekend Concert series. The first 23 days of jazz will be held in a variety of venues throughout the Atlanta area, while the 3 day Weekend Concert Series is held in Piedmont Park, in Atlanta’s Midtown district, featuring a mixture of local and internationally known performers from most genres of jazz.
The stage for the weekend concerts this year will be located near the park’s 14th street entrance off Piedmont Ave. The park is easily accessible by MARTA, the city’s rapid transit system, via the Midtown station. For out-of town visitors, hotels in the vicinity of the park include the Wyndham Midtown, Residence Inn and Regency Suites, all near the Midtown station, The Sheraton Colony Square, which is closest to the festival site, and the Best Western Granada Suites, across from the Arts Center MARTA station.
Even though most of the internationally known artists usually perform on Memorial Day Weekend and the Chastain Park concert the Friday before the weekend concerts, the festival’s first major event this year is a concert by tenor saxophone great Pharoah Sanders and his Quartet Saturday May 3rd at Clayton College and State University’s Spivey Hall. Vocalist Rene Marie opens for contemporary jazz all-star group Fourplay at Friday May 23rd at Chastain Park. Some of this year’s weekend performers include two groups from New Orleans, the traditional Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the versatile young trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and his Quintet, the groove-oriented groups Soulive and Metalwood, and Latin jazz greats Bobby Sanabria and Eddie Palmieri and their ensembles. After the weekend performances there will be jam sessions at Churchill Grounds, a small club next to the historic Fox Theater that seems to be the center of Atlanta’s acoustic jazz world. For a complete schedule of events check out the festival’s website or call the festival hotline at 404-817-6851