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2015 Art of Cool Jazz Festival

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By K. Shackelford

The 2015 Art of Cool Jazz Festival is a journey into the immense vastness of jazz music with a roster of world class musicians. Operating in only its second year, the three day jazz dreamland, offers a superb mix of old and new artists that illuminate the ways that jazz penetrates many forms of American music. The festival will occur in Durham, North Carolina on April 24-26, 2015.

The line-up at AOCFEST is a hefty one, and there is something for everyone. Headliners include soul crooner Anthony Hamilton, who will perform music from his platinum album Coming From Where I'm From, in addition to, legendary vibraphonist Roy Ayers.

Roy Ayers is celebrating over forty years in the world of music, and his contributions to R&B earned him the title Godfather of Neo Soul. Ayers has recorded over fifty records since 1963, and has continued to evolve and influence top musicians in various music genres. Among many of his awards, Ayers is a recipient of the Congress of Racial Equality Lifetime Achievement Award. In the 1990's, Ayers was a part of one of the most innovative jazz/hip hop music collaborations entitled, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which Time Magazine named as the album of the year. Over two decades later, hip-hop musicians are still praising Ayers for his unique aesthetic that is hard to rival. Ayers notes, “You know it's all about changing, really, and being multi-versatile. I'm not imprisoned within any particular style or category of music." Recently, Hip-Hop super producer Pharell Williams cited Ayers as one of his musical heroes.

Newer notables of the festival include Robert Glasper, who has stunned the world of jazz and R&B by winning two Grammy Awards for his Black Radio albums by his Robert Glasper Experiment. However, Robert will be returning to the festival with his jazz trio which is set to release a new album this year.

2013 Grammy winners Snarky Puppy, Kenny Garrett, Jesse Boykins III, BadBadNotGood, Christian Scott, Gretchen Parlato and even Hip Hop legend Big Daddy Kane, will take the stage. At least 40 different top-notch groups will be featured at various venues around Durham, NC. The festival will feature two outdoor stages, five indoor music venues and more than 30 world-class performances. Over 3,500 music lovers and approximately 40 bands, were in attendance last year. That number is expected to double.

For those who are interested in learning more about jazz, AOCFEST offers an Innovate Your Cool series which offers several lectures and discussions from jazz scholars, musicians and producers. The admission to Innovate Your Cool is free for students and festival attendees, and $10 to the public. The series will be held Saturday at the American Underground.

Tickets may be purchased on the Art of Cool website and at etix.

Here is a day schedule of many of the top and world-renowned artists who will perform. For a more detailed schedule that includes times and venue locations, visit their website.

Roy Ayers, Rissi Palmer, Al Strong, Mad Satta, Christopher Turner, KidzNotes, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, NCCU Combo, The MPS Project, ZooCru, Eve Cornelious, Kris Bowers, Carlitta Durand, Mike Phillips, Moonchild, Jesse Boykins III, Kenny Garrett, Takuya Kuroda, Robert Glasper Trio. Saturday, April 25 NCCU Jazz Ensemble, Saint Augustine's Jazz Band, Soul Understated featuring Mavis 'Swan' Poole, Maimouna Youssef, Anthony Hamilton, Canine Heart Sounds, Marc Cary, Snarky Puppy, BADBADNOTGOOD, Ester Rada, Butcher Brown, Gretchen Parlato and Alan Hampton, Ben Williams & Sound Effect, Laura Reed, The Beast, Sidewalk Chalk, Orchestra GarDal, DeQun Sue Sunday Avery Sunshine

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