A Charlotte Jazz Festival Guide

By Ryan McKeel

Photo: Daniel Coston 

April 9, 2018

Returning to the Queen City this week is Charlotte Jazz Festival, dedicated to one of America’s beloved musical art forms, Jazz. The Charlotte Jazz Festival continues to bring together local jazz enthusiasts and world class performers for the third consecutive year. The Festival seeks to provide Charlotte residents with stellar live jazz performances and education for the whole family. Friendly on the wallet, the festival includes several free events. Be sure to check out these top seven events during Charlotte Jazz festival April 9 – April 15.

Lunch Hour Jazz

Lunch Hour Jazz – Free

Perfect for the busy Charlotte professional, Lunch Hour Jazz is a free event that will take place every day during the festival. Held at the Jazz Pavilion at the Levine Center for the Arts between 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., these shows are a perfect way to celebrate making it halfway through the day with some incredible live music and lunch.

Lunch Hour Jazz Performance Schedule – 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Monday, April 9 – Lovell Bradford Quartet
Tuesday, April 10 – Troy Conn Quartet
Wednesday, April 11 – Nicci Canada and Dapper Street Band
Thursday, April 12 – Johnny Conga and Caribe’ Jazz
Friday, April 13 – Alfred Sergel IVtet

First Night Celebration featuring The Baylor Project  

Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Kick off the festival at The Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden Park with what is sure to be a splendid opening ceremony. Spotlighting The Baylor Project, this evening’s performance includes music from 2018 Grammy award-winning album The Journey. A group dedicated to smooth and easy music that is sure to speak to the artists and jazz lover in all of us.

The Music of Thelonious Monk

Friday, April 13, 2018 at Knight Theater

Hailing from New York City, the prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, under the direction of the legendary Wynton Marsalis, will perform the music of the iconic North Carolina jazz musician, Thelonious Monk. As one of the greatest composers of jazz, this concert will surely light up everyone’s Friday night.

Second Line Parade – Free

Saturday, April 14 at 4 p.m. at Levine Center for the Arts 

In partnership with Jazz Arts Initiative, the streets of uptown will be transformed into the French Quarter as musicians and participants march through the Queen City in the style of a New Orleans classic big band parade. Perfect for crafty families and in the tradition of the Big Easy, umbrella painting will begin at 2:00 p.m. at Levine Center for the Arts plaza.

Leonard Bernstein at 100

Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Knight Theater

The second of two shows featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, this program will pay tribute to one of the greatest american composers of all time, Leonard Bernstein. Hailed as the creator of jazz symphonies, this show is sure to be one of the top highlights of the festival. Jam-packed with hits familiar to wide array of audience members, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is guaranteed to provide the crowd with a unforgettable night.

Mwenso & The Shakes

Saturday, April 14 at 9:30 p.m. at Jazz Garden Tent at Romare Bearden

Performing jazz and blues through African, Afro American, and other-worldly music forms, Mwenso and The Shakes bring a unique sound to the Charlotte Jazz Festival. Frontman Michael Mwenso leads an electrifying show the New York Times calls “intense, prowling, and ebullient.” Perfect for the global arts advocate, this show is sure to be an intense night of international sounds.

Late Night Jams – Free 

April 12 and 14 at Knight Underground

Held at the new speakeasy-themed hideaway where the cocktails are cold but the piano is hot, these late night performances will bring Charlotte musicians together performing completely improvised sets.

For more information on shows, schedule, locations, and ticket prices, check out the Charlotte Jazz Festival website. 

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