Smooth tunes: Jazz in the Park rocks Helena Amphitheater

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Hundreds of folding tailgate chairs several rows deep could be seen under the canopy of trees at the Helena Amphitheater on Sunday, July 9, as smooth jazz music filled the air on a perfect summer evening.

For the third straight summer, Magic City Smooth Jazz and the Jazz in the Park program visited the Helena Amphitheater to provide a free concert featuring jazz artists Joe Carnaggio Trio and Phil Denny to make for a fun and relaxing summer evening near the banks of Buck Creek.

Helena residents and several non-residents alike filed into the Helena Amphitheater in the early evening hours, bringing coolers, blankets, snacks and more to enjoy a laid back atmosphere and great music.

Ken and Terri Ball visited Helena for the first time on July 9 to check out the amphitheater and the Jazz in the Park event.

“We’re from Cullman and we heard about the event through Facebook,” Ken said. “This is our first time in Helena and our first time at the event. We just heard about it and thought we’d come check it out.”

Magic City Smooth Jazz and the Jazz in the Park program is dedicated to enhancing cultural activities through various styles of jazz in the state of Alabama. Since its inception in 2008, Magic City Smooth Jazz has hosted more than 90 free concerts for the public while presenting more than 275 emerging and established artists while impacting the lives of more than 20,000 adults and children, according to the organization.
Jazz in the Park founder Bernard Lockhart said over the years the organization has expanded to many city municipalities offering the free jazz concerts. He praised the city of Helena for their interest in the organization and jazz music.

“I think the best thing is just the diversity and friendliness of the crowd,” Lockhart said. “The city of Helena, Mayor Mark Hall and the law enforcement have been so welcoming with open arms to Jazz in the Park and I think people really enjoy it. It’s a free concert and people get to see quality musicians. The thing that’s great is that people get to come and listen to great musicians where typically you’d have to pay for a show like this.”

Magic City Smooth Jazz is an IRS registered 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization with the mission being to expose and engage audiences in culturally underserved communities in the state of Alabama to various styles of jazz at no cost to the public.

“I’m very proud of Helena and the city and the growth we’ve made,” Hall said while addressing the large concert crowd. “I’m very happy that you chose to spend your Sunday afternoon here in Helena to listen to some great smooth jazz.“

For more information on Magic City Smooth and to view a full schedule for Jazz in the Park events, visit Magiccitysmoothjazz.com.

To view or purchase photos, visit Shelbycountyphotos.com.