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Black Arts and Culture

38th Annual Norfolk Jazz Festival Was Masked And Jammin’ With Talent

By Glen Mason
New Journal and Guide
Fine Arts and Culture Correspondent

A “Journey of Passion” led Jazz saxophonist Jackiem Joyner back to his hometown and the Norfolk Jazz Festival on the second night of the 38th Annual Festival held August 20 and 21 at the Norfolk Scope. The festival planned for outdoors at the Waterside was held at the Norfolk Scope due to inclement weather. Most of the crowd wore masks due to the current COVID environment, but that did not stop the flow of excitement.

Joyner, a native son of Norfolk, is another noted Comet from Granby High School. He now lives and records in Los Angeles. Following his performance at the Norfolk Jazz Festival he spoke fondly of his “hometown.”

His set included numbers from his latest cd that drew a number of fans to vendor tables afterwards, showing their support for a local artist with purchases.

“Journey of Passion was actually recorded during the COVID-19 (pandemic),” said Joyner during a cordial, post performance break backstage.

“It’s kind of a special CD that I made,” he continued. “I’m just so happy to be here with my GOOD friend, Adam Hawley, at the Norfolk Jazz Festival at the Norfolk Scope! Let me tell you it was an amazing experience! The audience loved it. I enjoyed playing here. My dad was stationed in the Army here.

“I just completed my second book “Minor Assassins.” So I’m an author now. So check me out on Instagram. Since I haven’t been on the road performing, I’ve been writing music and writing books,” Joyner said, unable to hold back his enthusiasm to another writer-producer.

“Go to my website jackiemjoyner.com. It was really good to come back home. Finally! And play here in Norfolk where I was born. I can’t wait to come back”

“I enjoyed seeing Jackiem,” said Ray Barnes. “There is a certain flow to his playing and went straight to Apple music and added to him to my play list. I will be looking forward his new September 15th release.”

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Every performer was a headliner. Friday and Saturday night Norfolk was jazz central. American’s original art form. Guitarist Adam Hawley also performed with Joyner. He kicked it on one of his latest songs on his next cd “I Don’t Mind.”

Spyro Gyro took jazz mavens a walk down jazz fusion lane. Jay Beckenstein on saxophone led, no, conducted the aggregation with a jazz virtuoso signature. He paid homage to the original band members with Tom Schuman, Scott Ambush, Julio Fernández and Lionel Cordew.

Boney James closed out the 38th Annual Norfolk Jazz Festival on Saturday evening. And Boney James was Boney James dancing and grooving two to three minute mixes of his many award winning hits and number ones on the Billboard Jazz charts.

The funk-laced Fabulous Blonds Cindy Bradley and Atherton Friday opened the festival Friday night showing off their soulful musicianship. The duo opened by turning Scope into a jazz night in Greenwich Village. Norman Conners took us to a night of jazz with muses Jean Carne, Marva King, and Norfolk native Theonita King. The vocalists paid tribute to Phylis Hyman as if we were at the Showman’s Jazz Club in NYC.  Local virtuoso keyboardist and singer Greg Rich slayed the keys during his solos. Conners announced that the Newport News resident had signed with his new smooth Jazz aggregation Norman Conners’ Starship Jazz Orchestra. David Sanborne and his Electric Band closed out Friday night as if the audience was an old friend.

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