There are several reasons why sweet, smooth, and even raw sounds will float through the night air for four days at The Richmond Jazz Festival.
But the main reason is the planners have a habit of not only offering something for everyone including avant-garde -pop, serious jazz, mellow R&B, fusion and zydeco. The planners also have a habit of forming crucial partnerships which have increased attendance from a few thousand when it was launched in 2010 to about 15,000 last year. From dusk to dawn, people will haul lawn chairs, blankets, and snacks to the Richmond Jazz Festival that will run from Aug. 10 – 13. They will hear an array of award-winning artists performing on three different stages.
“We are always planning, always looking for new artists and new collaborations,” said Frances Burruss, director of media and marketing. “We now have three stages and started with one stage. We have made a concerted effort to improve each year and we have expanded locations where you can hear music. People come back each year because there is always something new and better each year.”
In other words, attendance continues to increase at the Richmond Jazz Festival because the planners continue to tinker with, well, their proven recipe. As a renowned chef adds a pinch of this or a handful of to perfect an award-winning recipe, it would seem like you could not improve on the first jazz festival in 2010 that included 25 artists, wine tastings, chef demonstrations, tours of Maymont, or face-face-encounters with artists like Chaka Khan, Sharon Rae North and Plunky and Oneness.
But, Burruss said the crowd size and corporate sponsors increase each year because planners never stop tinkering with the main ingredients. “People from all over the world continue to come back each year,” Burruss said. “Ticket sales are going well because this year’s lineup is amazing. We even made a video of people telling us why they come back each year. In the video, one woman said she left her home in a great mood that improved after she got to the concert. The Richmond Jazz Festival brings people together from all walks of life. People know it’s going to be better each year.”
Last year, people picnicked, socialized and strolled around the verdant lawns of the vast, 100-acre Maymont estate and listened to an award-winning lineup that included Herbie Hancock, Stephanie Mills, Arrested Development, Diana Schuur. Oh yea, last year’s list of performers included The Roots, and the late Al Jarreau. And Vanessa William crooned into a microphone while wearing a beguiling green jumpsuit. The Atlanta-based alternative hip-hop group Arrested Development pumped up the volume.
This year, there is still something for everyone. Whether it is fusion rapper Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. who will perform with The Richmond Symphony, Erykah Badu, The Isley Brothers, Peabo Bryson, Philly-bred singer Jazmine Sullivan who will perform her 2008 debut single, “Need U Bad,” or Toronto-based singer-songwriter Melanie Fiona, an R&B standout.
All types of music will float through the night air again at this year’s jazz festival. For example, BJ the Chicago Kid will perform. Pop-jazz pioneer Bob James, a two-time Grammy Award-winning keyboardist will perform, as will David Benoit who is considered one of the founding fathers of contemporary jazz. Grammy-nominated jazz-soul singer-songwriter Maysa will perform on one of the three stages. Secret Society, which is known for pumping out ‘feel good music,’ will also perform on one of the three stages.
“People should come because we have the best lineup yet,” Burruss said. “People will be amazed at what they will see, hear and taste at this year’s festival. This year will be exceptional because we have added more days and performers.”
The festival has many sponsors including Dominion Power, Virginia Is For Lovers, Richmond Region Tourism, West Rock, and NBC 12.
“We have been building and growing each year,” Burruss said.
For specific information about The Richmond Jazz Festival, please go to https://jazzatmaymont.com/.
By Rosaland Tyler