Jazz Festival returns to Piedmont Park, snares Schurr, Spyro Gyra for 33rd annual outing


After a two-year drought-related exodus, the 33rd annual Atlanta Jazz Festival will return to Piedmont Park this Memorial Day weekend.

The city’s director of Cultural Affairs Office Camille Love (pictured at right with Mayor Reed and American Family Insurance’s Michael Riggs) was beaming from ear to ear when we saw her Thursday night at the Jazz Festival’s kick-off party held at the Loew’s Atlanta hotel in Midtown.

“Let it rain, let it rain!” Love told Intel laughing. “As long as it doesn’t rain Memorial Day weekend, that is! I’m just elated that we’re back where we belong this year.”

And thanks to Jazz Festival presenting sponsor American Family Insurance and longtime partners, Publix, Coca-Cola Company and Anheuser-Busch, Atlanta was once again able to book top national acts and local musicians for the event without spending one dollar from the city’s budget.

While the former three-day event has been pared down to just Saturday and Sunday this year, major acts playing the park include: Marcus Miller and Christian Scott debuting selections from “Tutu Revisited: The Music of Miles Davis,” Spyro Gyra, Stanley Clarke Band, Hiromi and a salute to Lionel Hampton starring Diane Schuur and Jason Marsalis.

“I’m thrilled that in my first year as mayor we’re able to welcome the Jazz Festival back to Piedmont Park where it belongs,” Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed told Intel. “And not just for the Jazz Festival but for all the annual events there. Piedmont Park is truly the heart of this city.”

Hizzoner told us some of his most memorable nights in Piedmont Park at the Jazz Festival were spent listening to saxophonist Najee.

“I’m a big Najee fan but for me, it’s also about the relaxed environment and the fellowship there,” Reed explained.

Reed said that he’s also partial to listening to the American art form in the mayor’s office these days as a way to wind down.

The Jazz Festival is also debuting a month-long passport program this year in May for fans, featuring venues across the metro-area hosting concerts and special jazz-related events plus an opportunity for one lucky act to win a slot on the Piedmont Park stage by posting a two-minute original video on YouTube (details can be found on the festival’s official website by clicking on the “Contests” link).

The city’s brand-new luxury hotel, Loew’s Atlanta (just two blocks from the park) is the official host hotel for the festival and will feature special late-night live jazz, an accompanying menu and special festival rates for jazz lovers.

A complete list of Atlanta Jazz Festival acts and events can be found at atlantafestivals.com.