Déjà vu: The Richmond Jazz Festival

Last week, organizers announced the lineup of the 2nd annual Richmond Jazz Festival. The two day festival held at Maymont will have 19 different groups.

Many of you may remember the article: All that jazzy: The Richmond Jazz Festival. Well it’s that time of the year again! The Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont’s lineup is now posted.

This year, two pre-festival events will be held:

Homegrown at the Hipp
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Local musicians will perform at the Hippodrome Theatre in the Jackson Ward.
Tickets – $15

Big Voodoo Daddy
Friday, August 12, 2011
Richmond Centerstage
Tickets – $25

The main event:

Saturday, August 13, 2011 – Sunday August 14, 2011 at Maymont park in Richmond, Virginia.
Tickets – $40 per day or $70 for weekend pass (Before 7/1/11)
Tickets – $45 per day or $75 for weekend pass (After 7/1/11)

The lineup is:
Robin Thicke, Aaron Neville, Chrisette Michele, Fourplay, Los Lobos, Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Peter White and Gerald Albright,The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, Brian Culbertson, Soul of Summer featuring Jonathan Butler , Maysa and Eric Darius, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Spyro Gyra, Kirk Whalum, The Rippingtons, Earl Klugh, Down to the Bone, Pieces of a Dream, Christian McBride, Simone, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Tizer featuring Karen Briggs, Maestro J

Change a few names and last year’s article can do this years festival justice. False advertising and mislabeling come to mind as the list is almost entirely limited to artists that fit the mold of smooth jazz, R&B, or soul. Only two of the nineteen groups use upright basses and most of the groups utilize synthesizers. Why is acoustic jazz almost entirely ignored while a majority of the history of jazz is acoustic? The variety is disappointing considering jazz is the longest recorded and one of the most expansive genres of music.

Despite last year’s attendance of 7,000 to 8,000 people and very expensive ticket prices, the event still lost money. The event’s organizers remain confident, promising some proceeds to Richmond City Public Schools. No matter the financial outcome, the organizers promise to boost the cities image.

Last year, the article mentioned other jazz festivals and their changing lineups:

In the last few years and especially due to the dwindling economy, jazz festivals have had trouble bringing in audiences. In order to draw the numbers and keep their businesses afloat, festival organizers have taken to bringing in big non-jazz acts to fill up the bills. Seeing names like Pearl Jam on jazz festival line-ups is a reality that jazz fans have had to accept. Such is the case with the Richmond Jazz Festival: there will be acts along the R&B and soul tip that sound “jazzy” but really have nothing to do with jazz, the vocalist’s bluesy melismas the closest thing to come to improvisation in their set. While other festivals at least book real jazz (as Schuller would call it) to counter the totally non-jazz acts, we won’t find such counters at the RJF.

Here are some different jazz festivals so you can draw your own conclusions:

Cost: Free
Lineup: Dianne Reeves, Dave Holland Octet, Joe Lovano, Steve Wilson, Toots Thielemans, Vijay Iyer Trio, Regina Carter
Artist in Residence: Jeff “Tain” Watts
Bottom Line: Detroit, a city that has fire works on June 27th instead of July 4th to save money, hosts one the largest free jazz festival in the world.

Cost: $40*-$315
Lineup: Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, India.Arie, Idan Raichel, Joshua Redman, Huey Lewis and the News, Terence Blanchard, Geri Allen, Poncho Sanchez, etc.
Bottom Line: This event has a wide variety of styles and generations of jazz.

New Orleans:
Cost:$45-$60 per weekend
Lineup: Arcade Fire, Jimmy Buffett, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny G, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, etc.
Bottom Line: This concert gets a lot of attention but every year its lineup looks more and more like Bonnaroo.

Cost: $40-$100
Lineup: Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, Eddie Palmiere Latin Jazz Band, Mingus Big Band, Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Shorty, Grace Kelly with Phil Woods, etc.

Undead Jazz Fest (NYC):
Cost: $25*-$50
Lineup: Medeski Martin and Wood, The Claudia Quintet, Andrew D’Angelo Big Band, Ari Hoenig Quartet, etc.

Washington DC:
Cost: Individual Shows
Lineup:Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove and the RH Factor, Donald Harrison, Antonio Hart Quintet, Darius Jones Trio, Heath Brothers, etc.

*denotes single day ticket price

  • error

    Report an error

Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

There are 10 reader comments. Read them.