Smooth jazz is the sound of sophistication, unlike rough jazz, which is the sound of Louis Armstrong blasting chili out of his trumpet. Lend your ear to upscale scales with this GrouponLive deal to see the Uptown Charlotte Jazz Fest at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. For $23, you get one ticket for general-admission lawn ticket (up to a $45.35 value). View the festival's schedule and choose between the following dates:
- Friday, June 22, at 7 p.m. with Pieces of a Dream, Innertwyned, and Soul of Summer, featuring Jonathan Butler, Maysa, and Warren Hill
- Saturday, June 23, at 7 p.m. with Joey Sommerville, Boney James, and Incognito featuring Maysa Leak
Just as the United States is the melting pot of cultures, jazz is the melting pot of sounds, with its sonic stew of smooth saxophones, buzzing trumpets, sharp percussion, and adventurous improvisation. The third annual Uptown Charlotte Jazz Fest honors this distinctly American genre of music with a versatile, homegrown lineup of artists who represent jazz's many facets and incarnations. Friday night's performances reach a fever pitch as Philly natives Pieces of a Dream play select cuts from a 36-year career that spawned funky hits such as "Mount Airy Groove" and "Fo Fi Fo," and Charlotte-based Innertwyned transform from a four-piece smooth jazz ensemble into an eight-piece party band through mitosis, blaring a set list of Top 40, funk, pop, and Motown tracks. The mellow tunes of Soul of Summer, a trio of smooth-jazz cruise stars, trails off into the night as songstress Maysa's rich contralto floats over Jonathan Butler's guitar and Warren Hill's saxophone.
Brass master Joey Summerville opens Saturday's performances with squonks from his heralding trumpet and chorus of pet ducks, before saxophonist Boney James stakes his claim on stage with songs from his 12 jazz albums, which have sold more than 3 million copies to date. Although widely considered an accomplished jazz performer, Boney refuses to refer to himself as such, stating on his website, "I have never thought of myself as a 'jazz' artist specifically." Instead, James sees himself "reaching across genres and creating music that [he] believes is fresh and relevant." Closing out the two-day festival, Maysa Leak joins British jazz-funk veterans Incognito to take cues from their charismatic bandleader, Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick, as they groove through hits that dominated the UK charts, such as "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" and their cover of Ronnie Laws's "Always There."
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