Art of Cool, NCCU to team up for festival

Jul. 30, 2013 @ 05:57 PM

The Art of Cool Festival is teaming up with a longtime jazz presenter for its inaugural event in April. The North Carolina Central University Jazz Studies Program will present its 24th festival as part of the Art of Cool Festival.

Since 1990, NCCU has presented an annual April festival that includes clinics and concerts by guest artists, faculty and student groups. In April 2014, the 24th Annual NCCU Jazz Festival will be presented April 25-26 as part of the Art of Cool Festival, according to a release from festival organizers. Student and faculty groups, as well as guest artists, will perform at festival venues. Traditionally, the festival has been held exclusively at B.N. Duke Auditorium on the NCCU campus.

Art of Cool Festival organizers approached NCCU Jazz Studies Director Ira Wiggins about the partnership about a month ago, said Cicely Mitchell, a cofounder of The Art of Cool Project, which is organizing the festival. Wiggins agreed that helping to inaugurate the festival was a good thing for NCCU, and would help him “get his students in front of more people,” Mitchell said.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” Mitchell said. “We usually present a little non-traditional jazz, so it’s good to have NCCU on board to bring the tradition.” It also happens that trumpeter Al Strong, who with Mitchell cofounded the Art of Cool Project, graduated from and is an adjunct trumpet teacher in the NCCU program.

Guest artists who performed at the 2013 NCCU festival were saxophonist Benny Golson and percussionist Carl Allen. Other guest artists who have performed at previous festivals include Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut, Nnenna Freelon and Grady Tate.

The NCCU partnership is the latest that the Art of Cool Festival has announced. Earlier this month, organizers announced that American Tobacco Campus would be the title sponsor.

The festival also announced that saxophonist Maceo Parker will be the headliner. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, a violinist, will perform with his orchestra in a tribute to North Carolina-born artists John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone and Roberta Flack. The full festival roster will be announced at the end of the year, Mitchell said.  

The two-day festival will be presented at American Tobacco, Durham Central Park, Casbah, The Pinhook, the Carolina Theatre, Motorco Music Hall and the Durham Arts Council. It has not been determined if B.N. Duke also will be a festival venue, Mitchell said.

The festival is seeking to raise $25,000 through a Kickstarter campaign. As of Tuesday afternoon, the festival had made 51 percent of its goal. The campaign continues through Monday. 

The Art of Cool Project began presenting concerts in Durham’s Golden Belt in 2011, then expanded to other venues. In 2012, the organization announced its intention to bring a jazz festival to Durham.