This year’s festival concludes with a powerhouse week of fantastic music
Jazzanooga is the vision of local founders Shane Morrow and James McKissic. Their love and appreciation for jazz music combined with an interest in local cultural lit the fire of inspiration.
What began in 2011 as a single-day event has grown in four short years to a month-long, citywide commemoration of jazz that drew more than 4,000 people in 2014.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month and Jazzanooga 2015 honors that with a celebration of events each day, including Jazzanooga Youth Music Academy, the Living Jazz Series MLK Banner Project, Music Fest, and an educational display about jazz musician Dave Brubeck. The goal of the month’s activities is to give the Chattanooga community an opportunity to recognize, understand and value its contributions to defining jazz music.
One of the elements closest to the hearts of Morrow and McKissic is the Jazzanooga Youth Music Academy, an ongoing educational program for young people ages 12 to 17 who have some experience with musical instruments as well as vocal training. The academy meets every Saturday. Admission is free.
Financially supported through funds held at the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, the academy brings in experienced instructors to work with the budding musicians and nurture their skills as well as offer them insight into the history of music in their community.
Morrow, who comes from a history of five generations of jazz pianists, said he believes the program is a positive way to inspire unity through music and instill its participants with confidence in their abilities.
“I have a single parent with a child who is inside the program,” he said. “She came to me and thanked me, and said her child had not only learned so much about the music, but also about himself. It [the academy] did so much for his self-esteem.”
The Living Jazz Series MLK Banner Project began last year focusing attention to jazz musicians who were born in Chattanooga. The banners are placed at each intersection along MLK Boulevard from Central Avenue to Lindsay Street. This year’s banners feature eight incredible jazz artists.
Clyde Stubblefield, who is a drummer best known for his work with James Brown.
Anne Lee Patton mastered the art of performance through poetry and music.
Lovie Austin was a bandleader and ranked as one of the best female jazz blues piano players of the period.
Yusef Abdul Lateef was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator.
Wilfred Middlebrooks was a double bassist who performed with many legendary 20th-century jazz musicians.
Ishmael Reed is an American poet, essayist, songwriter, playwright and novelist.
Valaida Snow was named “Little Louis” after Louis Armstrong, who used to call her the world’s second-best jazz trumpet player.
And Mark Taylor is a member of the “next generation” of jazz horn players.
The Jazzanooga Music Fest is a series of concerts featuring various types of jazz artists. JazzReach, a multimedia educational program, opened the event Tuesday, April 21. Grammy-nominated singer songwriter Eric Roberson will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 24 at The Camp House. Roberson’s music is a soulful fusion of blues, house, hip-hop, and rock.
The Music Fest will feature three amazing performers beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 26. Take 6, Grethchen Parloto, and Alan Hampton will play the RKW Community Theatre upstairs at the Memorial. The evening’s music will range from jazz to blues to gospel to R&B.
At the Chattanooga Public Library’s Downtown Branch there’s a display on jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck. A traveling exhibit, “The Times of Dave Brubeck,” it portrays the life and story of Brubeck as told through photos and documents. This exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library operating hours.
For more information about the many events surrounding Jazzanooga, to purchase tickets or a Jam Pass for the Music Fest, or to become involved in Jazzanooga Youth Music Academy visit the Jazzanooga website at jazzanooga.org