© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Art Of Cool: 5 Bands At The Borders Of Jazz

The vocal trio KING features production from Paris Strother, a jazz-trained pianist.
Alyssa Tumino
Courtesy of the artist
The vocal trio KING features production from Paris Strother, a jazz-trained pianist.

This weekend in central North Carolina, an adventurous music festival will pursue an explicit goal: to get more people to listen to jazz.

The event is easily the biggest production to date from the Art of Cool Project, a small concert-promotion outfit based in Durham. Encouraged by the highly educated populace of the Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle region, a concentration of successful venues and a history of African-American music, Art of Cool planned a two-day festival this Friday and Saturday throughout its hometown. And it's doing so by spotlighting many acts at the borders jazz shares with hip-hop, R&B and other similar styles.

"Our thing is expanding the audience for jazz," Art of Cool co-founder Cicely Mitchell says in a phone interview. She says she found her way into classic jazz via neo-soul and R&B herself. "We believe this festival could be a gateway festival, or a gateway presentation, to turn people on to jazz."

The most prevalent bookings feature groups who freely traverse or ignore jazz's boundaries: James Brown and Parliament saxophonist Maceo Parker, jazz-trained neo-soul vocalist Bilal, singing bassist Thundercat, eclectic and proggy guitarist/composer Rafiq Bhatia and the adventurous groove veterans in Kneebody — among many others. Here's a look at five more acts playing this weekend's Art of Cool Festival.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.