Photo by Maddy Hudson

The 36th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival will be held over Memorial Day weekend and promises a wide variety of talented jazz musicians from all over. This free event at Piedmont Park is put on every year in celebration of Atlanta’s great jazz heritage, and the festival has become one of the largest and most famous in the country.

In the mid-70s, a cultural rebirth swept through Atlanta, bringing in scores of new people, art, music and cultural perspectives. Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor and whom the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is named after, was elected during this time of great cultural influence. Soon after taking office, Jackson established the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and later focused on the promotion of jazz and its background.

This event at Piedmont Park is put on every year in celebration of Atlanta’s great jazz heritage

With a desire for Atlanta to be the jazz capital of the South, with the obvious exception of New Orleans, Jackson envisioned and coordinated the beginnings of a free jazz festival held every year. This year’s 36th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival has a special treat.

The lineup of performers was released at the Jazz Festival’s VIP and Press Preview Party last week. To many people’s surprise, former-mayor Maynard Jackson’s daughter, Alexandra Jackson, will be performing songs off of her debut jazz album this year. She performed alongside her band for the press all throughout the evening, giving the party more life beyond the non-stop jazz music chatter.

The lineup was released and the excitement level rose

Alexandra Jackson began taking piano lessons at the age of four and has been deeply involved with music ever since. She quickly learned that she wanted her music to revolve around social justice and love, especially after growing up in a household full of politicians and activists. After graduating from college, she created her own publishing company and began her first, and recently released, EP album From the Start. This year’s festival is buzzing with excitement and fervor in anticipation of her performance.

During the press event, current Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed spoke about the city’s jazz heritage and formally introduced the jazz festival to the press and party-goers. While definitely the highlight of the evening, Mayor Reed remained easygoing and down-to-earth with everyone, speaking with anyone who approached him with a smile on his face.

After unveiling the 36th Annual Jazz Festival’s poster design painting, the lineup was released and the excitement level rose. There will be 25 acts performed on two different stages in the park,. The acts will include The Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, Meshell Ndegeochello, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Rio Negro, Tia Fuller, Jose James and Dominick Farinacci.

The Atlanta Jazz Festival’s website offers the full list of performers for the entirety of the weekend. The city takes great pride in this annual festival started by one of its most famous mayors and is excited to have another year of great music lined up.

Though already a big deal in the world of jazz music, the festival continues to strive for growth and further extend its reach to anyone interested in this rich culture with great music and an extraordinary weekend.