Photo Credit: Central Avenue Jazz Festival
The Birthplace Of West Coast Jazz: LA's Central Avenue Jazz Fest Goes Virtual
Deemed the “birthplace of west coast jazz,” the Central Avenue Jazz Fest will host a virtual celebration starting September 8.
Los Angeles is home to some of the biggest jazz icons because of the cultural power that lied within downtown Los Angeles in Central Avenue. The street runs through the city and back in the early to mid-1900s, Central Ave was a Black neighborhood where revered musicians and jazz legends were born.
The jazz clubs scattered around this segregated region of Los Angeles in the 1920s to 1950s held some of the most classical tunes.
Famous Black jazz singers and masterminds often performed at these establishments while their white counterparts watched in the audience and studied their talents from other soon-to-be key industry players. There was a think-piece by an older white journalist that named this thriving Black culture epicenter in Los Angeles, the “Brown Broadway.”
The Black musicians that played at sold-out houses in these various clubs were “Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, and Dinah Washington” according to the LA Times. In light of the cultural importance of Central Avenue to the Black community, Los Angeles’s annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival will be celebrating its 26-year-anniversary virtually this year.
The three-day festival will feature daily headliners from September 8 to September 10. Ranging from Latin jazz players like Poncho Sanchez on the last day to the Dean Family opening the event. The virtual event will be starting at 7pm PST every night, and you can expect to hear congas and gifted vocal riffs.
The Central Avenue Jazz Fest is free and the lineup can be streamed by going on the festival’s website.
The jazz festival is usually held in the summer at the tail end of July and thousands attend in-person where food booths and crafts are accessible for guests.
However, this year the festival is going to be held virtually similar to last year’s programming. The official trailer of the 2021 Jazz Festival event can be found here.