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Top Jazz Festivals

You don't want to miss in 2016

Think that music festivals are just for alternative, rap and pop lovers? Think again. Those who love improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation and swing are in luck. There are countless festivals around the globe that celebrate America's original music genre: jazz music.

If you're looking for the best cultural and musical experiences that jazz has to offer, we have the scoop on the six must-see jazz festivals worldwide.

1. Panama Jazz Festival

Headliners:

Randy Western Group, Tony Vega, Luci and The Soul Brokers, Grupo Congo Generación Costeña, Carlos Mendez & Andres Carrizo, Kevin Harris Trio, Joshue Ashby & C3 Project

Location:

Panama City, Panama

Dates:

11–16 January

Price:

Ticket prices vary by performance

This festival has deep historical roots and can be traced back to 1965 when Danilo Perez Urriola first began experimenting and testing the effects of music on young people with behavioural problems in the poor communities of Panama and Colon. In 2003, his son started the Panama Jazz Festival to celebrate both Panama and the power of jazz.

Today, the festival attracts more than 220,000 people worldwide and includes concerts, jam sessions and musical clinics spread out through Panama City for a whole week of celebration.

2. Tucson Jazz Festival

Headliners:

Jimmy Heath, Snarky Puppy, Kenny Werner, Poncho Sanchez, Kermit Ruffins, Nicholas Payton, Raul Midon, Ravi Coltrane, Gerald Clayton and The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour

Location:

Tucson, Arizona

Dates:

14–24 January

Price:

Ticket prices vary by performance

Get ready for a jam-packed 11 days. This event draws jazz fans from all over the U.S. and Canada to enjoy the music and sunny weather. The festival is centred in downtown Tucson with concerts at the historic Fox and Rialto theatres.

And what's better than a jazz concert? A free jazz concert! As part of the event, a free outdoor Downtown Tucson Fiesta will be held on Martin Luther King Day with two stages. It will feature local Latin jazz bands and other smaller jazz ensembles.

3. Jazz in the Gardens

Headliners:

To be announced

Location:

Miami Gardens, Florida

Dates:

18–20 March

Price:

TBD

Listen to some big name jazz acts in the city of the Miami Dolphins during the 11th anniversary of this festival. The music is hosted in the beautiful Sun Stadiums with Grammy® Award-winning artists such as Charlie Wilson, New Edition, Neyo, Earth Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, LL Cool J, Fantasia, Mary J. Blige and Kenny G, who have graced the stage in past years.

The festival also features a wide variety of ethnically diverse foods and top-notch merchandise from all around the world. With a motto like "What happens in the Gardens, stays in the Gardens", you know you're in for a good time.

4. Bristol International Jazz Festival

Headliners:

Maceo Parker, Courtney Pine, Larry Carlton, Lisa Simone, Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley

Location:

Bristol, United Kingdom

Dates:

18–20 March

Price:

Ticket prices vary for each performance

If past years of the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival are any indication of what is to come next year, you can expect to hear jazz in a whole new way. With more than 40 different concerts, workshops and jam sessions, you will never be bored. 2015 featured Cartoon Jazz, highlighting Disney songs as you have never heard them before, as well as a New Orleans takeover — a tribute to the spiritual home of jazz.

You are guaranteed to learn something with films and exhibitions to look at in between the different performances. Maybe you will even learn to appreciate a whole new genre of music, be it gypsy jazz or spoken word!

5. New Orleans Jazz Festival

Headliners:

2016 line-up will be announced at the end of December or early January

Location:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Dates:

22 April–1 May

Price:

TBD (adult tickets were 58 USD each last year)

For those who like some variety, the New Orleans Jazz Festival certainly delivers! It celebrates all styles of music native to the Louisiana area, from jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, Caribbean and more!

This festival hosts world-renowned artists who are masters in their own genres as well as jazz. Last year, the festival featured big acts such as Elton John, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, The Who and Jimmy Buffet. The mix of heritage, culture and musical genres is undeniably exciting. We can't wait to hear who will be joining the line-up this year!

6. Brussels Jazz Marathon

Headliners:

To be announced

Location:

Brussels, Belgium

Dates:

22–24 May

Price:

TBD

Rendezvous in beautiful places like Sablon Square, St. Catherine Square, the Grand Place and more while you listen to marathon jam sessions. The festival is spread out over the beautiful city of Brussels, and transportation is a cinch with free buses running between venues.

This festival has been going on for more than 20 years and draws crowds from all over Europe and even Japan! And for those that can't make it, there is a free live stream available so you can catch all of the main acts.

Still haven't heard enough about jazz? Check out our interview with jazz master David Liebman about his career and passion for jazz music and High-Resolution Audio.

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