More Photos HERE By: Lexi Lewis
Rachelle Ferrell Photos
Read Rachelle In-depth Interview HERE
Boney James Photos
Frankie Beverly Photos
The Dazz Band Photos
L.L. Cool J Photos
Jamie Foxx Photos
Mustafa on Sax
Review by: Lexi Lewis
9th Annual Jazz In The Gardens Music Festival.
Rachelle Ferrell, Stanley Clarke, Boney James, Anthony Hamilton, LL Cool J, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Doug E. Fresh, Dazz Band, The SOS Band, Mint Condition, Kelly Rowland, Trey Songz, Jamie Foxx, Mustafa on Sax, Unir Band and Jay Jones.
Doug E. Fresh
The 9th Annual Jazz in The Gardens took place March 15th and 16th with an opening night party at the Calder Race Course on March 14th. The opening night party featured Doug E. Fresh, Dazz Band and the SOS Band. All of the performers did a fantastic job. As the SOS Band performed, I was reminded of all the hits they had! What a throw-back in time. One of the female singers mentioned that she will be 70 years old soon. I didn’t believe it! She looked nowhere near 70 years old nor did she perform like she is nearly 70 years old. I told someone I’d have to have her show me some ID. The Dazz Band performed their hits including “Joystick” and “Let It Whip” – a woo hoo! There were lots of attendees at the party so I would venture to say it was a success. This was the first time in nine years that they put on an opening night party. I certainly hope this is the new standard! And, it would be really nice if they kept booking old school bands for this particular event going forward….that’s my two cents.
Saturday, March 15th kicked of the official Jazz in The Gardens festival with acts such as Unir Band, Jay Jones, Boney James, Mint Condition, Kelly Rowland, Trey Songz and Jamie Foxx. The weather was great with plenty of sunshine. Speaking of sunshine, did you know the festival has never been rained out in its nine year history? Now that’s luck! The performances were top-notch, however, I was expecting Jamie Foxx to come out in a suit and tie, sit at the piano, play and sing, then turn it up by ripping of the suit jacket and getting a little more funky singing the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol song. Truth is, I'm not the only one who was anticipating something like that from him however, his performance was great!
The entertainment continued on Sunday, March 16th with Mustafa on Sax, Rachelle Ferrell, Stanley Clarke, Anthony Hamilton, LL Cool J and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Rachelle Ferrell's performance was moving to say the least. She put her mind, body and soul into her show. You see, in a previous interview with me, she said she had to "make up for being sick last year" as she was scheduled to perform at Jazz in the Gardens in 2013. Well, she made up for it and then some with her outstanding performance. If you don't know this 6-octave songstress, look her up!
LL Cool J is still looking good! His high-energy performance had people on their feet and waving their hands in the air. He did something very unusual; he invited the media on stage with him to surround him and take photographs! Of course I went out there to capture some of the great shots of him you will see in the photo gallery related to this festival. There were some incredibly close shots of his face. That was a neat experience.
Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly closed the night out on Sunday. The host, comedian D.L. Hughley, said he'd never seen a band keep performing and selling out crowds when they hadn't made a record in 74 years! Of course you know 74 years is exaggerated but truth is, it's been about 24 years! That must be a special feeling to have that kind of impact and following with no records in over two decades.
Generally speaking, there were an estimated 25-30,000 people in attendance each day. That's huge! This festival has grown tremendously from the days when they saw about 1,800 people attend in the beginning. They've partnered with AEG to help grow the brand and implement other strategic initiatives to propel Jazz in the Gardens to the next level.
The festival had a media tent set up where artists appeared for a mini interview and to entertain media questions. This was a nice set up and they even provided complimentary dinner and non-alcoholic beverages for media personnel each day. There were a couple of drawbacks. On average, festivals/concerts allow photographers to photograph during the first three songs, however, this year they only allowed pictures on the first song then they rounded us up like cattle and encourages us to leave the photographer's pit.
For a festival of this magnitude and the fact that they had artists in the media tent when other artists began to perform, it was hard to even get photographs of some of the artists because I couldn't be two places at the same time. However, had it still been a three song limit, I would have been able to cover more artists. The one song limit was extremely disappointing and I hope they consider going back to a three song limit since the media attendees seems far less than last year.
Besides the media one song photograph limit, the VIP area seems to be in a very strange place in the park. I've heard people complaining that they can't easily maneuver around to get to the general area and to get to food vendors. I even got stuck in an area out side of media but I headed toward where I thought I could go through and couldn't. It would have been nice to have an opening with security personnel there to protect the area then it would have been more convenient for me and the other patrons.
There were many food and non-food vendors there; something to please everyone's taste. For those who don't know me, I love to wear jewelry with lots of bling. Well, guess what? There were even jewelry vendors there, and yes, I did buy something with bling! While out "shopping" with the vendors, I noticed that MSNBC had a booth and some of their personalities were on site for autograph signings and pictures. This festival has really grown!
In closing, the festival, overall, was outstanding. Mayor Oliver Gilbert and all supporting festival staff should be very proud of the city hosting such an exciting event each year that gets better and better. Next year marks the 10th annual Jazz in the Gardens in 2015. I'm expecting them to do something really big for this one. I cannot wait to see the line-up for next year! Okay Jazz in the Gardens you've impressed me, now surprise me. See you then.
For more information on this event go HERE: