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Atlanta Kicks Off Summer With 34th Annual Jazz Fest at Piedmont Park

This past weekend, I attended the 34th Annual Atlanta Jazz Fest in Piedmont Park and I had the best time ever!  Although the sun was blazing down on my neck, the heat seemed to disappear when the performers took the stage. The melodic sounds of jazz drew me in and I almost forgot how hot it was. But as soon as each set was over, I was quickly reminded that it was officially summer time in Atlanta.

When I first arrived at the festival, I stood off to the side of the stage taking in the atmosphere. Instantly I thought about summer backyard barbecues. Piedmont Park transformed into a big backyard party!    All over the park, you could smell the meat sizzling on the grill, you saw kids playing in the grass, all while the sweet sounds of jazz filled the air.

One thing that most impressed me was the organizers, Office of Cultural Affairs, who created the event with the whole family in mind.  Parents did not have to find a babysitter if they wanted to attend the festival. The organizers did a great job in making sure everyone young and old had an outlet.  For example, there was a Kid’s Corner, Jazz Eco Village and a Jazz 101 Tent so people could learn about the history of jazz. There were plenty of vendors for patrons to purchase good food and shop trendy items.  And if you happened to be low on cash, there were plenty of giveaways that included food and products. Between the vendors, music and family setting, no one should have left the festival feeling unfulfilled.  I certainly didn’t!

So, finally, I was able to take a spot on the grass, under the shade of course, and listen to Sean Jones Quintet, one of the features on the main stage. I had never heard of Sean Jones, but after listening  to  his music,  I was blown away. He is a trumpeter who has been performing since he was in the fifth grade.  I was most impressed with him because of his vast background and the story behind his music.  You should pick up his new album, Shades of Love.  I also met a guy who is the ambassador for the Atlanta Jazz Fest, saxophonist, Mike Phillips. He is now on tour with Prince and has played with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder!  What great inspiration!

I also got a chance to check out some local bands, too – Rua6 and Neo4.  Since they are local, I highly recommend you check them out, especially Rua6. They had the crowd dancing in 90 degree weather with their flavorful Brazilian jazz beats. They are also the house band of Loca Luna restaurant in Midtown, Atlanta.

I only attended the Jazz Fest on Sunday, but if the other days were anything like Sunday, I have to say, job well done to the organizers and artists. I give the Atlanta Jazz Fest 4 stilettos, and yes, I will attend next year with my grill, blanket, and bucket of ice-cold water!  See more photos here.

-T. Monet is a Special Correspondent for AOM. Photos by Britt Hutchinson.

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