Grading Jazz In The Gardens
So another Jazz In The Gardens event is in the books. The pride of Miami Gardens held annually at Sun Life Stadium celebrated it’s tenth year anniversary and a record number of concert goers attended. As a matter of fact Saturday’s show was completely sold out. That is a very good sign that JITG has established itself as a marquee event around the country. It now ranks up there with the annual Essence festival among others and can be counted on to draw a huge amount of visitors to the city of Miami Gardens. It was an important year for JITG i thought and many great steps were achieved.
Saturday’s show was highlighted by a great performance by the Men Of Soul. Former LTD front man Jeffrey Osborne, the legendary Freddie Jackson and Peabo Bryson delivered a standout performance to the massive crowd at Sun Life Stadium. There was even a cameo by Shalamar great Howard Hewett who is a South Florida favorite. However that was about it. Comedian DL Hughley was somewhat funny but there was a long delay between Toni Braxton’s performance and the Men Of Soul. Hughley , who was later assisted by the hilarious J Anthony Brown and hometown favorite Marvin Dixon did his best to keep the crowd entertained however the time dragged too long and the atmosphere seemed less festive by the moment. By the time Toni Braxton got on stage she had a tough time getting some much needed energy from the crowd. This even though her performance was pretty good as she ran through her classics one by one. It did not help that the sound system was not at it’s best during her set. Give her credit though she performed as if it was sounding perfect and she delivered a pretty good show. Take heed up and coming artists. As the time dragged on and on the crowd was hoping that R Kelly would swoop in and save the day like a comic book super hero. I finally succumbed to the urge to leave and left for the day. Social media was not too pleasant the following morning and throughout the day. Day one grade : C-
Day two however sparkled from the very outset ! There was some real Jazz In The Gardens as some of the all time great jazz artists set the tone for a great day two. Among them Lonnie Liston Smith, Roy Ayers, Tom Browne, Ronnie Laws and that Brian Culbertson fella is every bit as good as they say he is. The sound system sounded as if if it had been rewired by Beats By Dre. Later a magnificent performance by hip hop giants Run DMC shut the stadium down. Run DMC was flawless as they rocked Sun Life Stadium to the core and had the mega crowd swaying their hands from side to side. Everyone threw their hands in the air and waved them like they just did not care and if you wanna party with Run DM…oh i’m sorry caught up reminiscing. After the Hollis Boys killed the stage Hot 105 DJ’s Tony Neal, Funkmaster Olly and DP kept the vibe lively dropping some good ol grown folk music.
Also Rickey Smiley did a good job hosting and there was more star power as the stars of Fox’s monster hit TV series Empire Jussie Smollett who plays Jamal and Bryshhere Gray who plays Hakeem made an appearance and thrilled the crowd. We also got to give love to neo soul legend Erykah Badu who was in the zone when she took the stage . Badu was smooth and knocked the crowd out with an impeccable performance. She gets this year’s MVP award. Finally Maxwell carried everyone home with his sultry soul, the modern Marvin Gaye did not disappoint his loyal mostly female audience. Day two of JITG was a smash hit and left everyone with a much better taste in their mouths. Overall grade for day two a resounding A+ !!
Great job to the hosts and organizers even though this year’s event had some bumps here and there this event is going places and is something Miami Gardens folks can be proud of. A job well done. Hopefully as the event grows a better show flow will come as the organizers always look to improve the event . I also hope to see some South Florida icons in the midst of all the love when we capture Urban America’s focus in the future. Folks like Betty Wright, Luther Campbell yes him too ! Harry Wayne Casey real Miami guys. Just something to think about. Overall another great year at JITG and the best is yet to come. Count on it.