Atlanta Jazz Festival 2015: Curt’s Guide to Maximum Jazz

"Jazzman" by John Ryan

“Jazzman” by John Ryan

The 38th Atlanta Jazz Festival started this evening in Piedmont Park. For those who were there tonight, the choice was easy. One stage, two bands and so you went.  For most of the Festival, starting Saturday, there will be three stages operating simultaneously. For the folks who come for the party and pitch their canopy or tent along the perimeter of the Main Stage, all is well. They will chill out in that space as long as they want. Believe me, I ain’t mad at them, because they’re getting what they came for.

But there are others among us who will be sitting on a dilemma. With great artists playing at the Main Stage, the International Stage and the Locals Stage, how do we get to catch the most jazz that we can and not miss the most worthwhile acts?

Well, I’ve studied the weekend schedule long and hard and I’ve devised what I call the “Maximum Jazz Plan” for the serious jazzhead. Or, how I intend to check out the best performers that the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Fest has to offer. You won’t catch everyone but you won’t be disappointed.

First, you have to travel light – a small lawn chair for sitting and no more than a small canvas cooler of beverages for hydration’s sake. Second, you have to know the best routes to move between stages. The International and Local Stages are relatively close to each other. The Main Stage is a bit of a hike, especially in the middle of the day. Dress cool and comfortable is also key. It’s ATL, it’s almost June and it will be as hot as, well you know…

Saturday

  1. Start at the Main Stage at 1 PM – Catch violinist Daniel D  – shouldn’t be too crowded yet, so moving on when time comes should be easy
  2. Be at Locals Stage by 2:30 to hear Jessie Davis and the Nebraska Jones Experiment. Cut out at about 2:15
  3. Be at International Stage by 3:30 for Israeli guitarist Dida Pelled, who will be delightful
  4. Be back at Main Stage by 5 PM for the start of the REVIVE/Blue Note segment and Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life
  5. Big Dilemma! You can either leave after Twi-Life to catch Alfredo Rodriguez at the International Stage at 7:30 or stay put as I will for Otis Brown III on the Main Stage at 7. It all depends on your preference. Either way, you wont be disappointed.
  6. Close out the day at 9 PM at the Main Stage with Derrick Hodge

Total number of bands heard: 6; Total number of stages visited: 3

Sunday

If you didn’t hang at the Jam Session on Saturday night, you’ve got a shot at this ambitious Sunday schedule, otherwise you’re screwed, just pick up wherever you can, after coffee and breakfast!

  1. Start at the Locals Stage with the Joe Grandsen Big Band at 12:30
  2. Head over to the International Stage to see Fernanda Noronha at 1:30 PM
  3. If you feel inspired, catch a bit of Mastery at the Locals Stage at 2:30 PM, as you’re heading to the Main Stage
  4. Be at the Main Stage at 3 PM for Four Women: A Tribute to Nina Simone
  5. Stay put at the Main Stage for The Nettwork Trio (Moffett; Jordan; Watts) at 5 PM
  6. If you want, catch a bit of Diane Schuur at the Main Stage at 7; but be at the International Stage at 7:30 for Arturo O’Farrill. It should be the best Big Band set of the weekend
  7. Close out with Pharaoh Sanders back at the Main Stage at 9 PM
  8. Go to the hotel and get some frickin’ sleep

Total number of bands heard: 6 – 8; Total number of stages visited: 3 

So this is my plan as I arrive in ATL Saturday morning, and I’m (hopefully) stickin’ to it.

I hope to see y’all out there.

Shoutout to @MrChrisHodges; @bluesatch and the indefatigable @jazzevangelist . I’ll holler at y’all when I get to Piedmont. Hope to see y’all sometime this weekend.

I’ll be dropping live tweets, photos and vid clips from AJF38 all weekend. Followed by a full review next week. Hope y’all dig it!

For more information about the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Festival, visit their website: http://atlantafestivals.com 

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