It’s called Pianos in the Park Jazz Fest, but it’s not all pianos. It is, however, all about jazz.
“We might have to change it to Pianos and Guitar in the Park,” jokes Garry Goin, a guitarist who will be performing at the event Sunday at W.C. Handy Park on Beale Street.
The piano virtuosity comes from the headliner, Washington-based keyboardist Marcus Johnson, a highly regarded recording artist with more than a dozen albums to his credit.
Goin has been based in Memphis for several years and has long partnered with songwriting legend David Porter. On Sunday, Goin will perform at the park with another Memphian, saxophonist Pat Register. The playlist includes pieces from his 2013 release “Road Trip,” as well as tunes from his first album, Goin Places.
Jazz here is often overshadowed by other music. Goin says there aren’t that many venues in town that offer jazz, but there is an impressive number of musicians living here.
“A lot of jazz musicians are playing in church now,” Goin says. “That’s why so much gospel music has gotten so progressive — players already brought up in the church are combining jazz with gospel and that’s why you hear those progressive changes.”
He wishes jazz could be more widely promoted. “We meet a lot of people and they want to listen to live jazz but say they have a hard time finding it.”
Goin is pleased that Strictly Jazz Entertainment has been pushing the jazz agenda. With Dennis Adams as president, Strictly Jazz has arranged concerts to allow players to perform and to educate the public about Memphis’ jazz heritage.
“We wanted to create an organization where jazz enthusiasts can hear live jazz,” Adams says. It leans toward smooth jazz of the 1950s, ’60s and contemporary genres.
Sunday’s fourth annual Pianos in the Park is one of those efforts and joins a few others, including Jazz @ the Westin Hotel Downtown, every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6-10 p.m. There also is Sax on Sunday every week at the Bleu Restaurant at the Westin.
the “With Pianos in the Park, we wanted to give families something on the holiday weekend,” Adams says. “Children like to see the instruments and that’s how they learn to respect the music.”
“We’re trying to get people to think about jazz.”
Fourth annual Pianos in the Park Jazz Fest
Sunday, 6-9 p.m., at W.C. Handy Park on Beale and Third Street. Tickets: $45 reserved seating center stage, $35 general admission with lawn chair. Children 12 and under free. Order tickets at StrictlyJazzEntertainment.com. Food items and coolers not allowed. Food is available for purchase.