Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) began in April 2002 when producer/musician Quincy Jones helped the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announce the beginning of a month long festival to celebrate jazz music. The festival commemorates the historical significance of this musical genre with its roots settled in the south. Every year the Smithsonian hosts educational workshops and concerts to help spark a national interest in this beloved music.
The month of April was chosen for several reasons. However, as April is the birth month on many famous jazz musicians, it only made sense for the celebration to be held during this time. Some of these musicians include: Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Jonny Dodds and several others.
In 2003, Congress passed legislation stating that schools and organizations should develop programs designated to honor the rich history of jazz music as a national treasure.
Jazz music has a long-standing history in the Jacksonville community. La Villa’s lively streets between Ashley St. and Broad St. led to it being called the “Harlem of the South“. Many famous artists from the jazz era visited this emerging music scene. Today the Ritz Theatre and La Villa Museum celebrates the heritage from the time. Jacksonville was also a pivotal stop along the way for Ray Charles’s success.
This year the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is celebrating over 30 years and a return to the Downtown core. The festival takes place May 26-29 with three stages of live music, local food and drink and much more today in #DTJax.
Thursday, May 26
Kick-off the festivities on Thursday, May 26 at the Florida Theatre for the piano competition hosted by Noel Freidline. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the competition begins at 7 p.m. General admission tickets cost $10.
Friday, May 27
Festival hours are 4-11 p.m. with music starting at 5 p.m. Enjoy live music with three stages located Hemming Park, The Jacksonville Landing and on Main St. Don’t miss performances by Snarky Puppy, McCoy Tyner and Spice and the Po’ Boys.
Saturday, May 28
Begin the day with the Jazz Fest Clinic from 10-11:45 a.m. Festival hours are 1-11 p.m. with music starting at 2 p.m. Live entertainment on all three stages with performances by Yellowjackets, Jon Batiste & Stay Human and The Chris Thomas Band.
Sunday, May 29
Start the last day of Jazz Fest off right with the Omni Sacred Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., featuring the Noel Freidline Quintet. Festival hours are from 1- 10 p.m. with music starting at 2 p.m.
After Jazz Fest is over, join us in The Elbow for Jazz Fest After Dark. More local bands and brews keep the party going late, because every fest gets better after dark!