Athens Jazz Festival Performers Discuss Their Favorite Jazz Sounds

The Athens Jazz Festival moves to Bishop Park this year, with Saturday’s all-day event featuring some of the most prominent names in local jazz. We asked a few of them about the music that inspires their own work.

Who, or what, are your biggest influences?

Django Reinhardt for his joyful and free spirit, which shines through every virtuosic improvisation. Wes Montgomery for his beautifully relaxed feel and undeniable rhythmic drive. Joe Pass for his swinging solo guitar style. [Dan Coy]

John Coltrane‘s A Love Supreme. Jack DeJohnette. Billy Cobham‘s Crosswinds. [Louis Romanos]

Grant Green’s Feeling the Spirit. Wes Montgomery’s Full House. Brad Mehldau’s Songs: The Art of the Trio Vol. 3. [Trey Wright]

Lonnie Liston Smith. Miles Davis. Grover Washington Jr. [DJ Segar]

Getz/Gilberto: The beginning of my love for Brazilian jazz, my favorite of my parents’ records. Art Blakey and the Jazz MessengersMoanin’: One of my first jazz purchases in college. This record really shaped and stretched my taste in music early on. Ella Fitzgerald’s Ella in Berlin: Ella is amazing and can do anything. [Laura Coyle]

Who are some contemporary musicians worth checking out?

Jazzmeia Horn. Based in NYC, she’s an incredible vocalist carrying on the jazz tradition with her thrilling voice and presence. Louis Heriveaux. A brilliant pianist in Atlanta, he plays many weeknights at Houston’s in Buckhead, so it’s easy to drop in and get a fix of some incredible jazz piano. [LC]

Esperanza Spalding. Avishai Cohen. Amos Hoffman. [LR]

Antoine Boyer. Bireli Lagrene. Adrien Moignard. [DC]

I’ve recently been exploring European jazz artists as part of the Jazz in Europe study-abroad course I’m teaching at Kennesaw State: Ralph Lavital. Pierre de Bethmann Medium Ensemble. Sylvain Luc. [TW]

What’s a current favorite jazz album?

Brad Mehldau’s After Bach. [LR] 

Boney JamesHonestly. [DS]

The Bad Plus and Joshua Redman’s The Bad Plus Joshua Redman. [TW]

Luciana Souza’s The Book of Longing. [LC]


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