Photo by Michael Weintrob
Pedrito Martinez Group
One could quibble about the paltry quotient of pure jazz on the schedule at the fifth annual Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont, but who really cares? This is beginning to feel like a genuine musical showcase. The two outdoor concerts at Maymont on Aug. 9 and 10 promise a stunning array of funk legends, contemporary soul artists, R&B singers and, yes, even some jazz greats. Look — we have James Brown’s main guys Maceo Parker (playing Saturday) and Fred Wesley (with the New JBs, playing on Sunday). Who needs anything else?
But there’s more, lots more — rock and hippie soul mainstay Boz Scaggs, the man who made the “Lido Shuffle” famous, headlines on Sunday night; the great cosmic jazzster Roy Ayers will bring out the sunshine earlier in the day; and ’80s “quiet storm” icon Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds will no doubt elicit feminine sighs when he closes Saturday’s show.
Meanwhile, smoldering jazz-soul vocalists Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves and Regina Carter exhibit their distinctive singing styles (arty, refined and bluesy, respectively). Did I mention that funk pioneers Cameo and the ageless Average White Band are also on tap?
And for blasts of pure jazz, if that’s your thing, there’s Bill Frisell, Lou Donaldson and the Christian McBride Trio. The one wild card, not to be missed (even though they perform early on Saturday), is the Pedrito Martinez Group, a Cuban-based, conga-driven ensemble that killed it at the 2011 Richmond Folk Festival. The Maymont bears will dig them, and you will, too.
Here’s more proof that this is turning into a serious event — for the first time, the Richmond Jazz Festival is spilling out. Before this year’s big open-air shows, there will be a series of club concerts, including one on Friday, Aug. 8, from the venerable Blind Boys of Alabama, with opening act the Sean Jones Quartet, at the Hippodrome (tickets are $30). And on Aug. 7, the Allison Self Trio will transform Hardywood Park Craft Brewery into a jazz club with a free show, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will host a set of inspired piano tinkling from the 31 Fingers Jazz Trio. That, too, is free.
Tickets to the festival are $75 per day, $140 for the weekend. jazzatmaymont.com