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Atlanta Jazz Festival spotlights the next generation

Five acts you you don't want to miss at this weekend's Atlanta Jazz Fest

1369313823 Meshell Ndegeocello Photo Credit Charlie Gross
Photo credit: Courtesy Atlanta Jazz Festival
Meshell Ndegeocello

Peruse the lineup for this year's Atlanta Jazz Festival and you'll notice a number of artists listed who - much to the chagrin of a few hardcore traditionalists - don't neatly fit into the standard "jazz" categories. Of course the festival, which takes place May 25-27 (with free shows at Piedmont Park and ticketed performances at several other venues), has been in the business of showcasing genre-jumping musicians over its 36-year history. However, for 2013, there's a larger than usual cadre of talent that's dedicated to pushing the melodic envelope, and their presence on the bill isn't just a coincidence.

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  • Ana Ochoa
  • Alexandra Jackson

"We looked high and low to find artists who represent the next generation of jazz greats," said Camille Russell Love, Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs which organizes the festival. "We're trying to nurture new audiences for jazz music, so we thought we'd just embrace this next generation as an artistic direction."

That said, with such an expansive list of next generation artists, some of whom aren't exactly household names yet - even for serious jazz heads - here are five must-see musical acts on this year's Jazz Fest roster.

Alexandra Jackson: The daughter of Atlanta's first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson, singer/pianist Alexandra Jackson (as heard on here recently released debut EP, From the Start) is quickly gaining a rep for presenting jazz standards with a fresh "veneer." When she takes the festival stage, keep your ears peeled for refreshed versions of classics like "I've Got the World on a String" and "Midnight Sun," among others.