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Jazz in the Park Crab Festival featuring Roy Ayers, Michael Franks and Stephanie Jordan
(Published: January 27, 2017)

Friday, March 31, 2017 from 5:00 - 9:30 PM

NEW ORLEANS - Jazz in the Park will kick off its 2017 spring concert series with a four-day Jazz in the Park Treme Crab Festival featuring the music of internationally known artists Michael Franks and Roy Ayers headlining a ticketed concert on Friday, March 31, 2017 in Louis Armstrong Park with local Jazz vocalist Stephanie Jordan performing as the opening act beginning at 5:00 pm.

Tickets to see Franks and Ayers went on sale Monday (Jan. 23, 2017) on Eventbrite. Early-bird tickets are $25 and $50. After Feb. 14, the tickets will be $35, $60, Lain said. VIP tickets are $100 no matter when they are purchased.

Vibraphonist/vocalist Roy Ayers is among the best-known, most loved and respected jazz/R&B artist on the music-scene today.

Now in his fourth decade in the music business, Ayers, known as the Godfather of Neo-soul, continues to bridge the gap between generations of music lovers. In the 60's he was an award-winning jazz vibraphonist, and transformed into a popular R&B band leader in the 70's/80's. Today, the dynamic music man is an iconic figure still in great demand and whose music industry heavyweights, including Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac and Ice Cube.

Ayers recently recorded with hip hop artist Talib Kweli (produced by Kanye West) and jazz/R&B singer Wil Downing. Many of Ayers' songs including: "Everybody Loves the Sunshine","Searchin", Running Away" have been frequently sampled and remixed by DJ's worldwide.

Michael Franks occupied a uniquely popular niche in the world of soft jazz and pop music in the 1970s; he was one of those crossover artists who defied easy category on the radio..., Franks' early idols included such jazz-cum-pop legends as Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee..., His album, The Art of Tea, which featured the work of top jazz session players Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, and Wilton Felder, was his first serious commercial and critical success, its sales driven by the presence of the hit single "Popsicle Toes." It also established Franks' sound, with its smooth jazz textures and crossover pop appeal.

He enjoyed a string of successes over the next few years, including the hit "The Lady Wants to Know" (on Sleeping Gypsy), "When I Give My Love to You," "Monkey See, Monkey Do," "Rainy Night In Tokyo," and "Tell Me All About It." His music also evolved over this period, embraced Latin (especially Brazilian) influences and, later, adopted a New York jazz sound in tandem with his move to the east coast, and he collaborated with more major players, including Ron Carter, David Sanborn, the Crusaders, Toots Thielemans, and Eric Gale.

The Washington Post boasts of Stephanie Jordan's Kennedy Center performance, "A poised, soulfully articulate vocalist, Jordan turned in a performance that warmly evoked the influence of Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae and other jazz greats."

Following her performance with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Chicago Tribune's leading art critic Howard Reich wrote, "The woman can sing and indisputably knows how to reach out across the footlights . . . bringing heft to music of the Gershwins and Cole Porter without pushing volume levels. Clearly she values plush sound and knows how to produce it."

The full Jazz in the Park Treme Crab Festival will be held March 30 through April 2 in Louis Armstrong Park.

People United for Armstrong Park, which presents the series, is partnering with Budweiser and attorney Morris Bart, on the crab festival, which will serves as the opening event of the regular Thursday Jazz in the Park spring concert series in Louis Armstrong Park. The festival begins March 30, with the crab festival and a lineup of New Orleans musicians. The free music shows and crab-focused festival will resume on April 1 and 2.

Emanuel Lain Jr., executive director of People United for Armstrong Park, said that so far seven food vendors have been confirmed.

"We are getting a tremendous response from the restaurants," Lain said. "However, we are looking forward to even more restaurants joining us as participants."

In 2016, Jazz in the Park expanded its opening spring festival to three days, focusing on art. This year, crab is the theme of the opening event. "With the explosion of food festivals, we decided to throw our hat in the ring," he said. "New Orleans has a love affair with crab."

A portion of the money raised from the crab festival will go to Covenant House's Sleep to Support Homeless Youth campaign and to help pay for the regular concert series. "In addition, one of our goals is to try to incorporate some of the homeless youth at Covenant House to work at our festival," Lain said.

The rest of the crab fest food and music lineup and the musicians who will perform at the regular Thursday concerts will be announced soon, Lain said.

Jazz in the Park puts on a series of nine Thursdays each spring and nine in the fall. Thursday events are free and take place in Armstrong Park, which is bounded by St. Philip, Rampart, Basin, St. Peter and North Villere Streets.
For more information, call 504.233.4276 or send an email to emanuel@armstrongpark.org or visit pufap.org/index.

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