Cincinnati has been a vibrant music city for years, but some styles have traditionally been better supported than others. Practitioners and fans of local jazz, hip-hop, and experimental music have not always had supportive venues or heavy exposure, but that will change when local promoters OSNR present the Underworld Jazz Festival from May 23-27. Cincinnati stalwart and CEA honoree Napoleon Maddox describes the goals of the multi-venue event as being “in terms of the musical offspring of field songs and gospel. Some people call it Jazz, so I’ll refer to it as Jazz for the sake of identification. It’s important though that the connection be understood, stated and restated. This music came from the beak of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Maya Angelou’s ‘caged bird.’ So when artists around the world create or perform jazz, country, funk, rock, hip-hop or trap, they are echoing some part of blues that the ‘caged bird sang.’”
In keeping with that ethos of cross-pollination and common heritage, the festival will feature a variety of artists known for their spirit of collaboration, including Maddox himself (appearing both as a solo artist and with his group ISWHAT!?), Jennifer Simone (artistic director of the popular Monday Night at the Comet series in Northside), and New Yorker Claire Daly, as well as many others. Scheduled events include musical performances in a range of styles, a mini film festival, a salon/discussion panel, and more. Expect a powerful weekend celebrating the joy and pain of life in America.
Venue times/dates: May 23: Switch Lighting and Design, 6 pm May 24: Härth Lounge, 8 pm May 25: MOTR Pub, 8 pm May 26: MOTR Pub, 8 pm May 27: Dojo Gelato, 5 pm
How Much: Free