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 the Summer Night Jazz Festival at Wolf Creek Amphitheater in College Park. For $23, you get general admission to the lawn on Saturday, August 4, at 7 p.m. (a $46.85 value, including all fees). Gates open at 5 p.m.
As the sun dwindles above the picturesque Wolf Creek Amphitheater, some of the most celebrated names in contemporary jazz music take the stage. Headliner Jonathan Butler has used his childhood experiences with apartheid in Africa to sing about social injustice, spending several decades honing his musical style, which blends jazz fusion, R&B, and worship music. Touring since he was 7, Butler has earned Grammy nominations for two of his singles, "Lies" and "Going Home." He commands equally the guitar during instrumental tunes and his smooth tenor during yearning songs such as "Do You Love Me?" Equally notable is Rachelle Ferrell, former backup singer for Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams, and Lou Rawls. Owner of an impressive six-octave range, Ferrell moves from soft to powerful high notes and alto runs on such moving songs as "I Can Explain" and Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," all while spinning twinkling piano melodies with her fingers.
Michael Franks, the mustachioed troubadour who's been recording smooth-jazz renderings since the 1970s, also shares the bill. A songwriter as well as a singer, he has been covered by The Carpenters, Diana Krall, and The Manhattan Transfer, a band whose instrumentation causes subway tokens to rain from the heavens. Soul Train Award winner Maysa brings her R&B pipes to songs such as "Love Sweet Love," and Warren Hill treats transfixed onlookers to deft saxophone performances on rousing hits in the form of "Mambo 2000" and his cover of "Play That Funky Music, White Boy."