Now a highlight of the summer festival season in Philadelphia, “Jazz on the Ave” returns to Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue (to 17th Street) on Saturday, Aug. 17 from noon to 9:30 p.m.
The free, day-long, family-friendly event, hosted by popular radio personalities Patty Jackson of WDAS and Dyana Williams of Classix 107.9, takes place rain or shine, and will offer health screenings, rock climbing, face painting, clay sculpting, line dancing lessons, a game trailer, food, crafts, vendors and live music on two stages.
This year, the popular day of music and culture will feature headliners The Soul Rebels, a jazz, funk and soul band out of New Orleans, who will take the main stage at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue from 8:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The eclectic lineup also includes Lenny Harold, former Blackstreet member and past winner of “Showtime at the Apollo and Avery Wilson, past contestant on “The Voice,” as well as Philadelphia artists Tia Shanae and Sherry Wilson Butler.
While technically described as a jazz festival, Kenneth Scott, president of festival presenter Beech Companies, stated just before last year’s highly successful edition of Jazz on the Ave, “I want to remind people that this is a music festival. We surround it with jazz, because jazz is the heartbeat of R&B and soul, but this is a community festival, so we’re also offering Philly Soul Stock (16th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue), involving young talent.”
Jazz artist Sherry Wilson Butler, a respected vocal instructor at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, makes her second appearance at Jazz on the Ave, and will take the main stage at 3 p.m., accompanied by Arnetta Johnson (trumpet), Yesseh Ali (sax), Mark Johnson (keyboard), Chris Burton (keyboard) John Hall III (drums) and Sammy Jones (bass).
“I really want to do inter-generational, inter-cultural music,” Butler said in anticipation of her 45-minute set. “Because that way, you’re connecting to various diverse communities on age levels and on cultural levels. I’m moving in that direction.”
Performing for such a large and diverse audience, Butler’s set is geared toward bridging the musical gap.
“What you can expect is some music that’s going to reach out and touch you!” Butler said. “We’re mixing in Frankie Beverly, we’re going to kick off with some of that, do a little Gregory Porter ... I have an original song called ‘Live Life,’ So we’re going to mix it up — ‘Live Life’ has got kind of a Latin flavor. Our goal this year is to reach out to various levels, various cultures, and to connect to our community. I was born and raised in North Philly, so being here at the Cecil B. Moore jazz festival for me, is like being home. If they don’t talk to me when I’m doing the music, I’ll go on out there and talk to them! It’s about reaching out and making sure we’re touching the hearts and spirit of our community. These are our brothers and sisters! We’re just looking to have a great time, and helping everybody else to have a great time!”