Oakland’s Art and Soul Festival Brings Summer Jazz Back to the City

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Six musicians perform under tent
Oaktown Jazz Workshops' Performance Ensemble at Art and Soul in 2019. (Photo © David De Hart)

Home to a rich jazz and blues culture that gained prominence in the 1940s, Oakland is a centerpiece for the musical genres on the West Coast. Now, after two quiet summers, jazz will once again fill the streets of downtown Oakland as the city’s Art + Soul festival returns Saturday, July 23.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this year’s Art + Soul will feature a free live concert with performances from several Bay Area artists, including Kev Choice, Jonah Melvon, the Alphabet Rockers and many more. The festival also features the world premiere of “Blues, Baroque, and Bars: From the Streets to the Symphony,” a musical production that explores Black history and resilience through the lens of jazz music. The performance will spotlight renowned singer The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol, esteemed funk drummer Dennis Chambers and Oakland hip-hop artist and activist RyanNicole.

Attendees will also enjoy “Liberation Park on The Road,” which includes the East Oakland park’s staples: an outdoor artisan market, the Umoja roller skating rink and various children’s activities hosted by the Black Cultural Zone, a local nonprofit focused on arts activism and community engagement.

Art + Soul Oakland takes place on July 23, 12–6 pm, at Frank Ogawa Plaza. The event is free and more information can be found here.