In the middle of all the great festivals the city has to offer, we added a couple of new ones this year. The Women in Jazz Jam Festival, produced by local jazz musician and vocalist Kelle Jolly set a high standard for what I hope will be many years of future installments. By all measures, it appears to have been a great success.
The festival started Friday with appearances by various line-ups of the artists on both the Blue Plate Special and at Alive After Five. Unfortunately, I had to miss these two events. I heard the Alive After Five show, particularly, was over the top. One of the largest crowds ever to attend the KMA show featuring some of my favorite women vocalists.
Saturday started with a series of workshops in the Emporium, focusing young musicians, female-owned businesses and planning for future events. Young musicians provided the music, poetry found a spotlight in the form of Rhea Carmon and the Tennessee Archives of Moving Images and Sound provided footage related to Knoxville women in jazz and blues. The bookend event on Sunday was a concert at the (west Knoxville) Red Piano Lounge with the Dara Tucker Band.
The photos here are from the portion I was able to attend which, I think, served as a centerpiece for the weekend. The concert held on Saturday at Scruffy City Hall, scheduled mercifully early (5:30 PM – 9:00 PM), featured the work of Kelle Jolly with the Will Boyd Project, Nashville’s Christina Watson backed by Knoxville jazz aces including Keith Brown and Nolan Nevels. The concluding act, all female band Venus, from Atlanta ended the night.
Each of the performances provided the large crowd with a high quality show. I have to say that Knoxville stood very well with Nashville and Atlanta on this night. Kelle Jolly and Will Boyd laid down one of the best sets I’ve ever heard from them and I’ve heard some very good ones. Kelle’s vocals were simply on fire the entire night. Her charisma and style on full display, I could have listened to her twice as long as she played.
Christina Watson brought a different style to the show with a mellow vibe and a voice at once like velvet and then able to escalate the volume and power when needed. Backed by Keith Brown (keyboards), Nolan Nevels (drums) and Jon Hamer (bass), the set could hardly go wrong. The crowd embraced the shift in style and responded well to her set.
All-female band Venus ended the night with their version of the genre which included more of an R&B feel. Their high-energy show had the crowd dancing and I suspect most people would have been happy to party on into the night.
Check out the artists if you get a chance and if you see Kelle out and about, please encourage her to repeat this great event. Definitely try to hear her, Will, Keith and some of the other fine jazz artists this city has to offer. I’ll drop a recent WDVX Blue Plate Special featuring Kelle and Will below and I’ll post the full hundred or so photographs from the show on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page later this weekend.