Monday, November 18, 2013

Art of Cool Festival Announces Lineup

The Art of Cool Festival will take place in Durham, NC
on April 25 & 26. Tickets are available now at $120 for a
2-day pass or $275 for VIP
Earlier this year The Art of Cool popped up on my radar due to an incredibly promising Kickstarter campaign. The project, led by Cicely Mitchell and Al Strong has been helping to increase the presence of our local jazz scene throughout the past few years. The local non-profit has been organizing events that showcase local artists along with internationally acclaimed acts at a variety of high-profile and low-key venues throughout the area.

The project got its starts at the LabourLove Gallery in Durham when trumpeter Al Strong was looking for a low-pressure, intimate venue to perform at. However, throughout the past two years it has blossomed into something that's capable of re-igniting the once vibrant North Carolina jazz scene.

While there's always been handfuls of dedicated jazz listeners and performers in the area, Art of Cool is helping to bring the rich local scene back to life with their massive festival set to take place next April in Durham. Their aforementioned Kickstarter campaign raised over $25,000 and this past Friday the festival announced their long-awaited lineup. With high hopes set, Cicely and Al certainly didn't disappoint, combining some of the most revered local acts with a Grammy Award-winning artists and internationally acclaimed icons. The festival's marquee headliner, Maceo Parker (saxophonist for James Brown and Parliament) just so happens to hail from Kinston while the five-time Grammy nominee Nnena Freelon (mother of The Beast's Pierce Freelon), has called Durham home for decades.

While acts like Nnena and Maceo feel like givens for a high-profile jazz festival, the standouts amongst the lineup are those that provide the biggest surprises. Seeing acts like Thundercat and Cody Chesnutt on the lineup beside names like Robert Glasper, The Foreign Exchange and a special arrangement by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Though the Atwood-Ferguson piece has been public knowledge since this summer, it doesn't make it any less exciting. For those that aren't aware, Atwood-Ferguson is a widely renown multi-instrumentalist/composer who has worked with a breathtaking lineup of musicians ranging from Ray Charles to Dr. Dre to Hall and Oates and pretty much everywhere in between. For the Art of Cool festival, Atwood-Ferguson has been commissioned to create a staggering tribute to North Carolina's most renown jazz musicians. An 11-person ensemble will perform Atwood-Ferguson's composition paying tribute to John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Thelonius Monk and Roberta Flack with promised special guests to join the already staggering array of musicians on stage.

For jazz aficionados this is an absolute dream come true. It's a Hopscotch-level festival that touches on an entirely different area of our state's great scene. On April 25 and 26, Durham will be filled with the entrancing sounds of some of the world's most talented musicians. The festival's headliners will perform at the gorgeous Carolina Theater while the other acts will perform amongst some of Durham's finest venues like Motorco Music Hall, The Pinhook, Beyu Cafe, Heyti Heritage Center and the Durham Arts Council. Among all of the awe-inspiring jazz, soul and experimental music on display, artists will be taking part in panel discussions and master classes throughout the area, making for a unique and immersive experience for everyone involved. Check out the full lineup below:

Art of Cool Lineup:
Maceo Parker | Robert Glasper Experiment | Miguel Atwood-Ferguson | Cody ChesnuTT | Amel Lerriux | Alice Smith | The Clayton Brothers | The Foreign Exchange | Thundercat | Mark de Clive-Lowe | Revive Big Band | Russel Gunn | The Beast | Kneebody | Nnena Freelon & Maya Freelon Asante | Lois Deloatch-Gomes | NCCU Big Band | Rafiq Bhatia | Butcher Brown | NCCU Jazz Vocal Ensemble | The Hot at Nights | Kate McGarry & Keith Ganz | Shana Tucker | Akua Alrich & Kris Funn

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