“We have always presented the best and brightest on the scene and this year we continue that mission with a focus on where jazz is right now and where it’s heading. Audiences will enjoy a wide spectrum of styles from traditional straight-ahead, Latin jazz and swing to jazz flavored with neo-soul, hip-hop, R&B and world music. As technology brings us closer, musicians are collaborating from all corners of the globe and we’re entering a new age of jazz.” —Camille Russell Love, director-City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs
Whether they’re musicians or vocalists, every single featured artist of this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival’s “Generation Next” line-up is an authentic force of nature onstage and in the recording studio.
The free, 36th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival will give audiences a chance to experience these forces of nature up close over the Memorial Day Weekend (May 25-27) at Piedmont Park.
The 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals winner, Cécile McLorin Salvant, leaves even the most weathered of music critics speechless with her unpredictable set lists and capricious delivery. This is a young woman who takes the stage looking very much the part of an unassuming librarian, but then she opens her mouth and roars, taking the musical gloves off.
The French/Haitian Miami resident studied classical piano, then baroque and classical voice at France’s Darius Milhaud Conservatory and with acclaimed musician/educator Jean-François Bonnel. All of the unorthodox learning prepared her to jump into a mixed bag of song choices for performances. She’s been known to take on early 1900s tunes, often about servitude and abuse, and turn them around in the most audacious manner, sometimes sexualizing the taboo.
While she’s already enjoyed much recognition at age 19 with her 2009 album “Cécile” with Jean-François Bonnel’s Paris Quintet, McLorin Salvant’s next album, “Womanchild” — her first on Mack Avenue Records, for release May 28 — is a culmination of much follow-up buzz.
“[Cécile McLorin Salvant] sang less-than-obvious set choices … stamped out the lines with authority and power and a bit of outrageousness. She sang a Bessie Smith song about refusing a rough man’s advances, turning it into an extravagant story. The magazine Paris Hot Club has called her a ‘true and remarkable jazz singer…a young jazz prodigy.’” —Ben Ratliff, New York Times
“I want to get as close to the center of the song as I can. When I find something beautiful and touching, I try to get close to it and share that with the audience,” McLorin Salvant, 23, said. This Mack Avenue album reflects the young artist’s eclectic taste and deeply mature flavor. In it, there is a whole wide world of interpretation to play with (and she does), from a 19th century ballad called “John Henry,” with an updated flourish, to the artist’s 21st century waltz imprint of an obscure poem by Haitian writer Ida Salomon Faubert.
This womanchild came out of nowhere to take the jazz world by storm. She’s here to stay and scheduled to perform on the International Stage at 6:30 p.m., May 25.
Stay and check out the rest of jazz’s “Generation Next.” They include maverick bassist Meshell Ndegeocello (“Pour Une Âme Souvraine” [For a Sovereign Soul], A Dedication to Nina Simone) — on the Main Stage, May 25, 7 p.m.; pedigreed saxophonist Tia Fuller (I AM..Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience World Tour) — Main Stage, May 26, 9 p.m.; and modern, explorative jazz singer Gretchen Parlato (“In A Dream”) — Main Stage, May 26, 7 p.m.
For more info, call the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs at this number: (404) 546-6820.