Jazz in the Park

By on July 22, 2014

On June 29, people piled into Avondale Park in groups as small as one person or as large as families for Jazz in the Park, hosted by the Magic City Smooth Jazz.

The evening began with a couple of songs from the band, Clutch, followed by the main act of the night, Lin Rountree.

“I like to see the people come together—with the kids out here and we could possibly inspire one kid to get into music,” executive director and founder of Magic City Smooth Jazz Bernard Lockhart said.

The Magic City Smooth Jazz has been around for five years now. They are a non-profit organization whose goal is to bring people of all ages, genders, and nationalities together and expose them to various styles of jazz music. All performances are free to the public and there is a minimum of ten shows a year.

All shows are from 6:00 to 9:00 at night.

They started in Birmingham and are predominately still in Birmingham; however, they are reaching out to other communities.

Jazz in the Park can be found in Helena, Irondale, Tuscaloosa, and Auburn.

Lockhart also expressed that Jazz in the Park is never a small event. People always fill the park from all over—including from Atlanta.

All of the Jazz in the Park events are made possible by community sponsors such as ABC 33/40, Mercedes-Benz, Alabama Power, Wells Fargo, BlueCross, BlueShield of Alabama, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, The Alabama State Council on the Arts, and various other generous sponsors.

People brought lawn chairs and tents to enjoy the show. Some people brought their own food with them, but for those who did not, there was a concession stand.

The food at the concession stand was from Brianca’s Snack Shack from Birmingham, Alabama. They had Bear Burgers, Footlong Polish Sausage, Philly Cheese Steaks, and drinks for all ten dollars and under.

Lockhart explained that one of the problems they have been facing is that the concession stand is meant to be the main vendor to help bring in money; however, many people do bring their own food, and once the music has started, no one wants to get up and get their food.

Clutch, the opening band for the event, began in a basement in December 2011.

Clutch is made up of Timothy Huffman III on the drums, Josh Davis on the main keys, Kenneth Rembert on the auxiliary keys, Ralph Lee on the bass, Wesley Huffman on the percussion pad, Mitchell Bain on the guitar, and Erykah Johnson with the vocals.

They play various genres including jazz, gospel, and R&B.

They are available to play at corporate events, private parties, weddings, and everything else in between.

Lin Rountree, who followed Clutch’s performance, has played the trumpet for over twenty years. He enjoys the trumpet because “it has a pure clean sound. You can play a lot of different styles. It’s versatile. It’s powerful yet soft and soothing. It’s not a saxophone.”

“My favorite thing [about Jazz in the Park] is the people. They are very supportive. They enjoy good music. They give you good energy which is a two-way street when you’re on stage,” Rountree said.

The fans were very loyal through the Alabama heat and a small summer shower that occurred right before the performance began.

By 7:30 that night, the park was completely packed out with music lovers sitting in their chairs or on blankets on the ground. Families and friends of all ages were all gathered around enjoying the fellowship, the music, and the outdoors.

“This was my first Jazz in the Park event to attend. It was astounding and absolutely breathtaking. I’m looking forward to my next one, and I hope the weather is just as nice as tonight was,” music lover Chris Fraser said.

For a full list on sponsors and all upcoming events visit Magic City Smooth Jazz’s website at www.magiccitysmoothjazz.com.

Make sure you get there early because Jazz in the Park fans have proven to be loyal in rain or shine.

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About Samuel Wainwright

Samuel Wainwright is the Features Editor at the Kaleidoscope. He is a double major in English and History with a double minor in Psychology and High School Education and a Pre-Law indicator.
  • Unleash The Dragon

    I’ve attended one “Jazz In The Park” event thus far, and this is a wonderful thing, and it fills the void vacated for years by the lack of a strong festival presence such as “City Stages.”…Plus, even more, it eliminates the “there’s nothing to do in Birmingham” excuse. I had a tremendous time at the session I attended and that was by far the largest crowd I’d ever seen in all of my years at Avondale Park. Well done to all involved with making this happen, hope it continues and thrives. Both this city and the culture of jazz are long overdue for something good to happen and last for a change.

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