The 25th edition of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival (May 21–24) will present a glittering line up with a mix of rising stars and older gems who refuse to lose their luster. Appearing Saturday and highlighting this year’s event is one of the hottest touring shows in the country, Postmodern Jukebox, a group that covers pop songs in the styles of jazz, ragtime, and swing.
They first gained public attention with their doo-wop cover of Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop,” which went viral. That led to the group’s leader, Scott Bradlee, being interviewed on NPR and a live performance on “Good Morning America” and “Fuse.” The group capped off their meteoric year with a visit to
Cosmopolitan’s New York office for a year-end review of their performances of popular songs. Part of Postmodern Jukebox’s success is their rotation of featured musicians. Among the group’s prominent guests are Dave Koz who collaborated with them in a jazz cover of “Careless Whisper” and the “Game of Thrones”’ theme song. Nija joined them for a “space jazz” version of “The End of the World.” Postmodern Jukebox’s October 2013 collaboration with Puddles Pity Party on a cover of Lorde’s “Royals” has reached close to nine million hits.
And while jazz is always the headliner at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, funk will be in full swing with an appearance by Maceo Parker and his band, which has been called the tightest little funk orchestra on earth. Parker’s pedigree is funk through and through. He has played with each and every leader of funk, starting with James Brown. Parker has been enjoying a blistering solo career, building a new funk empire; one that is both fresh and stylistically diverse. He navigates deftly between James Brown’s 1960s’ soul and George Clinton’s 1970s’ freaky funk while exploring mellower jazz and the grooves of hip-hop, all right in line with Jacksonville’s sophisticated crowd.
Jazz fusion will be well represented with one of the founders of the genre, Grammy Award winner Spyro Gyra. Formed in the mid-1970s, Spyro Grya combines jazz with elements of R&B, funk and pop music, releasing over thirty albums selling over ten million copies. Their 1979 commercially successful hit “Morning Dance” was one of the most refreshing instrumentals of the decade. Their energetic performances continue to mix intricate melodies with a unique groove that draws on mixes of rhythms that never fail to entrance crowds whether in a small club or a large outdoor festival. One of their best songs, “Del Corazon,” written by guitarist Julio Fernandez, is a musical odyssey beginning with subdued melodic guitar riffs ascending into an atmospheric crescendo. carried by band founder Jay Beckenstien’s sax harmonies, that resolves as serenely as raindrops dripping from a tree after a thunderstorm.
Jacksonville favorite son and UNF graduate Noel Freidline returns, along with local neo-soul artist Joy Dennis and Eric Carter and Company. Soul singer Peabo Bryson will also grace the audience with a voice that has earned him two Grammys, gold albums and a host of other awards throughout his five-decade career. Bryson has some interesting, high profile duet collaborations under his hat, too — Celine Dion, Regina Belle, and Kenny G have performed with Bryson. Still releasing new albums, Bryson also actively mentors newer talent in the realms of neo-soul, pop, and R & B, along with jazz artist Regina Troupe. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival takes place in Downtown May 21–24. Visit jaxjazzfest.com.
Article written by Mike Bernos