2022 Jazz Fest rocks the crowd on the last day of the fair

The Titus Gant School of Music presented their Youth Jazz Ensemble who performed fearlessly at Jazz Fest.

2022 Jazz Fest rocks the crowd on the last day of the fair
October 13
10:22 2022

Ever since Jazz Fest was introduced a few years ago as part of the annual concert series presented by The Chronicle at the Carolina Classic Fair, it has been a welcomed addition. It is quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Due to some scheduling conflicts, several acts could not perform on Sunday, which allowed the performers that did show additional stage time. It also gave hosts Debra Terry-Stephens and Busta Brown a chance to do what they do best and that’s to entertain the crowd.

There were three Jazz Fest performers this year: Karlton Jones; the Youth Jazz Ensemble brought to you by the Titus Gant School of Music; and Aquarius Moon. While there were only three acts that performed, it did not stop them from putting on a phenomenal show that kept the crowd rocking from start to finish.

Saxophonist Karlton Jones took the stage first to kick off the afternoon’s musical lineup. Jones is a world-renowned saxophone jazz artist and gospel artist and has performed multiple times at Gospel Fest/Jazz Fest. His smooth sax playing mellowed out the fair attendees who had the pleasure of listening to it.

“I really enjoyed it, man. I always come out and love the crowd they have here at the Jazz Fest at the fair and I love the crowd because the energy was great today,” said Jones about his performance Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a lot of things that I blend into my music. I blend jazz, I blend elements of hip-hop, R&B, and as you heard, the first two songs have an afro beat vibe from it, so I really enjoy mixing different genres together and it’s just kind of a big fusion of different sounds and that’s what kind of inspires me to make music.”

Playing in front of a live audience gives Jones a different vibe versus playing in a studio setting. He says he enjoys both, but it’s something about playing in front of people that gives him a boost.

“The energy that the crowd gives me when I am performing kind of drives me and helps me push through the performance and even do better,” he said. “In the studio, it’s a little bit different vibe. You’re kind of focused on playing your song and trying to get it as perfect as you can because once you put it on a track, it’s there forever. So, when I am in the studio, I am more meticulous and have to get it exactly right.

“Regardless of what’s going on in the crowd, I try to bring that energy. A lot of times the crowd feeds off my energy and I feed off of theirs. I just try to keep it positive and do my best and the crowd usually responds very well when I do that.”

Throughout the afternoon, Brown and Terry-Stephens kept the crowd energized and laughing, while also giving out several gift cards to local businesses that donated to Jazz Fest.  

The next group was something new that we haven’t seen at Jazz Fest before. The Titus Gant School of Music presented their Youth Jazz Ensemble, comprised of all teenage youth. These young people performed fearlessly in front of a large audience and impressed everyone in attendance.

“The youth jazz ensemble is one of our newer programs that we started, and we started it because of the lack of jazz instruction for youth in the community,” said Gant. “A lot of people say that it’s hard to get young people (interested) in jazz. I say you just have to expose it to them. They don’t know what they don’t know.

“They did an excellent job today. We talk about how to perform like professional musicians. I tell them all the time that there is no age limit on being a professional musician. Once you have the skills and knowledge in place, it doesn’t matter what age you are.”

Gant stated they started rehearsing as an ensemble at the beginning of August and have played several events since then. He says this is their fourth performance of the year and have continually gotten better with each event.

The closing act of the show was Aquarius Moon. This group really stole the show with their renditions of classic and modern hits from several different artists. They had the crowd on their feet for the entire set. The group is comprised of Mike Thompson, Lois Atkinson, Herman Sanders and Larry Graves.

“Most of the time we do a set list; however, we kind of play it by ear once we get in the environment to see what the temperature of the crowd is and we felt like we needed to keep it upbeat with the exception of a few mid-tempos,” said Atkinson.  

“It’s the crowd. The crowd is the motivator, so you got to stay fresh. Keeping it up-tempo, fresh and songs that are classics is important. We stay busy because we do the right song, at the right time, in the right place.”

With the perfect weather on the final day of the fair, Jazz Fest saw a fairly large and diverse crowd. The Chronicle staff wanted to thank everyone who came out to enjoy the show and also a special thank you to all of the sponsors whose support helped make this such a successful event..

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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