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Photo by Erica Techo.
Keyboardist Chuck Barnes, drummer Ronnie Harris, Vann Burchfield and bassist Leonard Todd practice at Burchfield’s Hoover home.
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Whether it is smooth jazz, jazz fusion or contemporary, it will be on stage at this year’s Preserve Jazz — Over the Mountain Music Festival.
“When you say jazz, instinctively something pops into your mind,” said event coordinator Jason Henderson. “We’ve always prided ourselves on offering a wide variety of jazz.”
Now in its ninth year, the jazz festival is making its way back to Hoover to its original location at The Preserve Sept. 17.
Preserve resident Jason Henderson started the jazz festival in 2007 in his neighborhood, where it took place every summer for seven years. In its eighth year, however, Henderson and his fellow organizers chose to move it to Sloss Furnaces. Numbers were down, and what Henderson thought would be a more central location ended up not being a success.
“It just wasn’t the same vibe as we had at The Preserve,” Henderson said.
In 2015, the jazz fest took a year off so Henderson could focus on his family and his job, he said, but it is returning this September.
Although they are moving back to the festival’s original location, Henderson said this year’s event will have a different feel.
For starters, this year’s festival will be on a Saturday in September, rather than a Sunday in summer. The decision was made based on past attendees’ feedback.
Henderson said they chose this particular weekend because Alabama has an away game, and Auburn is playing a low-tier football team. It will also be cooler and less likely to rain, Henderson said.
“I hope we picked a pretty good weekend to relaunch it,” he said.
Hoover resident and 2016 performer Vann Burchfield said he believes Henderson picked a perfect weekend for the festival, and he is looking forward to participating in a festival where he has formerly attended.
“I have actually paid for tickets and gone and sat in the audience for many wonderful acts that the Preserve Jazz Fest has had,” Burchfield said. “So when they asked me to perform, it was just such an incredible honor that I just had to say yes.”
Burchfield said at the Preserve Jazz Fest, especially during his band’s performance, attendees can expect a high-energy musical experience.
“It’s always about the people,” he said. “We don’t just stand up on the stage and play music. We express our hearts; we express our feelings and our emotions through our instruments. Don’t ever put an X and tell me to stand there because I love to dance. We all love to move.”
In addition to Burchfield’s smooth jazz, attendees will be able to experience Masters of Fusion, a project involving Gerald Veasley, Alex Bugnon and Chieli Minucci. Veasley’s experience includes everything from traditional jazz to jazz-rock fusion and funk, and he said the Masters of Fusion is helping bring together the wide array of jazz music.
Their group will also bring a high-energy performance, Veasley said, and attendees will hear a one-of-a-kind experience.
“If you just listen to a recording, it might not inspire you, but when you see artists play their hearts out, like we intend to do, you get an idea of the intensity, the enthusiasm the artist’s bringing,” Veasley said.
As in past years, attendees can bring their own food and drinks to The Preserve lawn. Vendors, however, will be different. Rather than bring in food trucks, the two restaurants at The Preserve — Vecchia and The Boot — will be the only food vendors.
“I want to drive and really incorporate them, bring the restaurants in [to the festival],” Henderson said.
Gates for the festival open at 11 a.m., and the first act will go on about 1 p.m. While all-day tickets are available for $42 in advance, Twilight Tickets also are available for $25. These tickets will cover admission from 6:30 p.m. until the end of the festival, and are intended for those who cannot attend all day. VIP tickets for a Thursday night event including beer and wine tastings, food pairings and a live, local band also are available for $50.
All proceeds, after the bills are paid, will go toward The Rev. John T. Porter Scholarship and WVSU 91.1, both at Samford University.
For more information, go to preservejazz.com.