The Jacksonville Jazz Festival has announced an impressive roster of artists who will be playing during Memorial Day Weekend. Al Jarreau, Boney James, TIZER featuring Karen Briggs, Sax and the City with Paul Taylor and Marion Meadows, Marcus Johnson, Ester Rada, and Pedrito Martinez Group are among the headliners for the three day outdoor festival.
It gets even better. The festival is free and most people take advantage of that but there are VIP tickets available which will give you seating directly in front of any of the three stages. The cost of a daily VIP pass is less than the price of back row general admission at most festivals of this caliber and a three day pass costs less than one day of VIP at Seabreeze or San Diego, to name a few. There are also plenty of hotels close by including some that are very reasonably priced. Dress is extremely casual, it is summer in Florida after all, and you will be walking a lot checking out the different stages, merchandise booths and the art show and sale This is undoubtedly the most budget friendly and real-people friendly festival out there.
While other large festivals have added more pop and R&B artists or focused primarily on one segment of the genre to bolster attendance this Florida festival has continued to showcase the entire spectrum of jazz music – straightahead, contemporary, fusion, progressive, Latin, roots, funk, even dixieland. They also give a considerable amount of time to local and regional talent on the main stages and at after hours events in clubs near the festival stages. Another wonderful thing about this festival is that instead of “lifestyle” events that are not music related this festival has expanded the amount of events devoted to arts and arts education. The Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition has been a tradition for more than 30 years with many competition alumni becoming established recording artists, the Youth Jazz Talent Showcase gives young musicians an opportunity to perform and win cash so they can continue their music education and the after hours Jazz Jam gives local and national players a chance to get onstage and show their chops.
This festival has been an annual event since 1980 except for a brief hiatus in 2001-2002 and has received national recognition as one of the top 20 jazz festivals in the country. Through the years the festival has gone through changes in sponsorship, location, and time of year as well as economy related budget fluctuations and available spnsorship money but they have always adapted and delivered a diverse and entertaining group of artists and a fabulous experience for attendees.