Peruse the lineup for this year's Atlanta Jazz Festival and you'll notice a number of artists listed who - much to the chagrin of a few hardcore traditionalists - don't neatly fit into the standard "jazz" categories. Of course the festival, which takes place May 25-27 (with free shows at Piedmont Park and ticketed performances at several other venues), has been in the business of showcasing genre-jumping musicians over its 36-year history. However, for 2013, there's a larger than usual cadre of talent that's dedicated to pushing the melodic envelope, and their presence on the bill isn't just a coincidence.
Alexandra Jackson: The daughter of Atlanta's first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson, singer/pianist Alexandra Jackson (as heard on here recently released debut EP, From the Start) is quickly gaining a rep for presenting jazz standards with a fresh "veneer." When she takes the festival stage, keep your ears peeled for refreshed versions of classics like "I've Got the World on a String" and "Midnight Sun," among others.
Julie Dexter: A native of Birmingham (England, that is), singer Julie Dexter is no stranger to the Atlanta music scene - with a catalog of locally produced music that stretches back to 1999. She's known as the "Queen of U.K. Soul," but she's a fixture at jazz spots worldwide and belts out tunes that are flavored with reggae, bossa nova, broken beat, and more.
Meshell Ndegeocello: Meshell Ndegeocello is clearly one artist who needs no introduction. An uncompromising bassist/vocalist, her sound covers the gamut, from soul to rock to funk to jazz and beyond. Don't count on hearing older hits, like "If That's Your Boyfriend (It Wasn't Last Night)," but be prepared for a far-out, wide-ranging, and worthwhile musical journey.
For more information about this year's lineup check out Atlanta Jazz Festival.
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