Staff Picks Genre Study - Jacksonville Jazz Festival: A Jacksonville Tradition and an American Celebration

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Just as it was once a central location for the film industry before there was a Hollywood, Jacksonville was a sister city to New Orleans in ushering in the age of jazz. Before the suburbs expanded and Jacksonville grew to the county-wide residential area it is today, the vibrant downtown area between Ashley and Broad Street was known as the Harlem of the South. The heart of the jazz scene in north Florida, it would host the biggest names of the day and see the emergence of up and coming jazz artists such as Ray Charles.

Sure to be included on lists of top jazz festivals in the United States, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival has been a cultural tradition since it began over 40 years ago. Originally billed as Mayport And All That Jazz, the event was originally free of charge to attendees. As it grew in size, attendance fees were eventually necessary but are still worthwhile. Since the festival beginnings in 1980, it has been a mix of nationally recognized names most Americans would recognize as well as local artists you might only know from local clubs.

Headliners for 2023 will include Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Eddie Palmieri, Carmen Lundy, Eric Roberson, Wynton Marsalis, Cece Teneal, Marcus Miller, Pieces of a Dream, and Generation Y with Ulysses Owens Jr. They will join a long list of performers who have continued the rich history of jazz in the Jacksonville area. 

  • Dizzie Gillespie: American Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator and singer
  • Della Rease: American Jazz and gospel singer
  • Buddy DeFranco: American Jazz and gospel singer
  • George Shearing: British Jazz pianist
  • Marian McPartland: English–American Jazz pianist, composer, and writer
  • Freddie Hubbard: American Jazz trumpeter
  • Sarah Vaughan: American Jazz singer
  • Teddy Wilson: American Jazz pianist
  • Ray Charles: American singer, songwriter, pianist and alto saxophonist
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band: A New Orleans brass band established in 1977 by Benny Jones and members of the Tornado Brass Band.
  • Tito Puente: American musician, songwriter, and bandleader of Puerto Rican descent
  • Joe Williams: American Jazz singer who sang with big bands such as the Count Basie Orchestra and the Lionel Hampton Orchestra
  • Maynard Ferguson: Canadian Jazz trumpeter and bandleader
  • Harry Connick Jr.: American singer, pianist, composer, actor, and television host
  • Grover Washington Jr.: American Jazz-Funk and Soul-Jazz saxophonist and Grammy Award Winner
  • Deanna Bogart: American Blues/fusion singer, pianist, and saxophonist
  • Neville Brothers: American R&B/Soul/Funk group, formed in 1976 in New Orleans
  • George Howard: American smooth Jazz saxophonist
  • Roy Hargrove: American Jazz musician and composer whose principal instruments were the trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Pamela Williams: American smooth Jazz saxophonist
  • Najee: American jazz-smooth Jazz saxophonist and flautist
  • Terrence Blanchard: American trumpeter and composer
  • Al Jarreau: Grammy award winning vocalist in Jazz, Pop, and R&B
  • Diane Reeves: American Jazz singer
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: contemporary Swing Revival band from Southern California

For fans of this uniquely American style of music, we suggest the following titles from the library collection. In addition, the library has a rich collection of Jazz music available in CD format or through the HOOPLA app for checkout with a Jacksonville Public Library card. We hope to see you at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival over the Memorial Day weekend to both enjoy the live shows and support a local tradition.

Legends of Jazz by Bill Milkowski

Arguably America's most profound cultural contribution, Jazz has evolved for over a hundred years since its birth in the ethnic gumbo of New Orleans at the dawn of the 20th century. This elegant volume presents a portrait gallery of 50 eminent musical legends, from Jelly Roll Morton, perhaps the inventor of the art form, to contemporary axman Joe Lovano, who contributes a foreword. Each figure is featured in handsome vintage photographs and a pithy, revealing biography.

Giants of Jazz by Studs Terkel

Sketching the lives of the true giants of Jazz, Studs Terkel, a lifelong fan and friend of many of these legends uses firsthand interviews with the artists to bring to life the human stories behind the music. First published in 1957 and now reissued in the first illustrated edition, this is an evocation of the mythic heroes of this uniquely American music form, ranging from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, from Duke Ellington to Billie Holliday and Fats Waller.

The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia

Jazz is the most colorful and varied art form in the world and it was born in one of the most colorful and varied cities, New Orleans. From the seed first planted by slave dances held in Congo Square and nurtured by early ensembles led by Buddy Belden and Joe "King" Oliver, Jazz began its long winding odyssey across America and around the world, giving flower to a thousand different forms; Swing, Bebop, Cool Jazz, Jazz-Rock fusion, and a thousand great musicians. Now, in The History of Jazz, Ted Gioia tells the story of this music as it has never been told before, in a book that brilliantly portrays the legendary Jazz players, the breakthrough styles, and the world in which it evolved.

Jazz in American Culture by Peter Townsend

Jazz in American Culture delivers a persuasive appreciation of what Jazz is & how the music permeated American culture.


Jazz: The First Century by John Edward Hasse

It's been called America's classical music. The infinite art. The heart and soul of all popular music. But whatever the label, Jazz has played an immense cultural role worldwide, opening up vast vistas of musical creativity, generating unforgettable performances, and giving us such iconic artists as Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. Jazz: The First Century marks the passage of the music's first hundred years by bringing together text and art in a rich, illustrated chronicle that opens up the vibrant world of Jazz to everyone.

A New History of Jazz by Alyn Shipton

The March 1913 issue of the San Francisco Bulletin coined the term "jazz", using it to describe a dance music full of vigor and "pep." Over time, Jazz became the word used to describe the syncopated bands that became popular in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century, playing a fiery mix of African and European music that then became popular in Chicago and New York and, finally, the world over. It wasn't long before the Roaring 1920s became known as "the Jazz Age," forever attaching the music form to decadence, booze, sex, and dancing.

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