With Jazz Fest After Dark and More, the City’s Music Scene Extends the Breadth, and hours, of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Weekend

All That Jazz (And More)

Jazz fest after dark promo image
From local acts, including Crescendo Amelia Big Band (bottom left) and Raisin Cake Orchestra (top right) to open jams, vinyl-DJ sets and more, Jazz Fest After Dark will keep the music going at local bars, venues and restaurants into the wee hours

For several years now, the return of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival has meant the return of Jazz Fest After Dark, a slate of programming that extends the breadth and hours of the official festival festivities to venues in and around the city’s urban core.

Presented by Moon River Pizza, JFAD is the brainchild of Jason Lewis, the legendary local concert promoter, a co-founder of local band Tropic of Cancer and veteran bassist in his own right. This loosely-configured co-mingling of venues includes basically every nightspot in downtown Jacksonville, particularly those concentrated to the east of Hogan Street, down along The Elbow at Bay and Main. Whether JFAD-related, Jazz Fest-sanctioned or otherwise, 1904 Music Hall, Bay St. Bar & Grill, Bold City, Burrito Gallery, Dos Gatos, Justice Pub, The Lark, Myth, Ruby Beach, Underbelly, Volstead–will all host music and events throughout the weekend.

Here’s a preview of what to look forward to in the hours after the festival.

Friday night, May 27 features Raisin Cake Orchestra at Breezy Jazz House in San Marco. Arguably the  finest regular jazz group in the state of Florida (in my opinion, anyway), the RCO has just released their debut album, First Quarter, a set of six songs curated from the public domain, reinventions of melodies composed between 1902 and 1928, available now on Bold City Records.

Saturday night, May 27, features the none-piece Crescendo Amelia Big Band, making their return to Underbelly, as well as the latest edition “Little Plates” at Justice Pub, where several DJs will be spinning 45 rpm vinyl records, strongly infused with jazzical flavors for the occasion. The highlight, however, will be an annual tradition in this town: the Jazz Jam, hosted by VyStar in the breezeway of their building, which runs between Bay Street and Riverfront Plaza. The crowd watching the festival will spill out directly into the breezeway. This year’s jam is hosted by the John Lumpkin Trio featuring Dave Champagne.

The 2023 Jacksonville Jazz Festival unofficially ends with a performance by TimeWise at Underbelly on Sunday night, May 28. Led by Chris Underdal, one of several exceptional guitarists under 30 in Northeast Florida (neck and neck with RCO’s Evan Ruffino), TimeWise offers an up-to-the-minute take on jazz fusion, with the quintet’s influences ranging from Miles Davis’ electric period to Domi & JD Beck.

From the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition to three days/nights of Jazz Fest programming to Jazz Fest After Dark, there’s a lot happening at and around this year’s festival. To help you sort through the jazz, we’ve put together an interactive guide to the 2023 Jacksonville Jazz Fest. Stay tuned.

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