The 37th annual celebration — presented by the city of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs — punctuates a month-long series of live performances throughout the area with three days of music in Piedmont Park in Midtown over Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Sunday.
The riffs, rhythms and extension of artistic goodwill have been a mainstay for a cross-section of patrons this time of year.
Moreover, the festival’s programming speaks to organizers’ express mission to educate and entertain a diverse audience of jazz fans and to nurture the next generation of jazz musicians.
Camille Russell Love, as executive director of the city’s cultural affairs arm, has been chief steward of its public jazz initiative for more than a decade.
The Neighbor Newspapers caught up with her for a candid interview on all things jazz.
Q: How would you assess the evolution of the Atlanta Jazz Festival?
A: When I first came here, the festival just consisted of those three days in Piedmont Park. Since then, we have increased it to a 31-day celebration — where there is jazz all over the city. We’ve also added a neighborhood jazz series, where our city council members partner with us to bring jazz [shows] into their respective communities. And, we’ve also entered into a relationship with Lincoln Center, in New York.
Q: What about the concerted outreach efforts targeting youth?
A: It’s important for us to encourage this next generation to learn about jazz … to give them a good foundation. There’s a youth band competition and we’re introducing a new concert for the younger [crowd] — babies to 7-year-olds. I read once that anyone who appreciates jazz music appreciates all music. Jazz is our American art form. … When you come to Atlanta and you hear these young musicians, it just makes your heart swell.
Q: Has the festival increased the city’s profile compared to other premier jazz destinations?
A: We’ve had a jazz festival here for 37 years now. Over these 31 days a lot of local musicians have the opportunity to perform somewhere. … We think that’s important.
There are not a lot of flourishing jazz clubs here, so to speak, but you can catch it at venues regularly — the [High] museum, the series at Callanwolde [Fine Arts Center], the InterContinental [Hotel in] Buckhead. … There’s a lot of people who love jazz in the city of Atlanta and when you come to the festival, you’ll see that.
We will also have free jazz education workshops in Piedmont Park [Saturday and Sunday] to both educate and inspire attendees.
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For more information, visit www.atlantafestivals.com