Jazz music lovers are thoroughly excited, smiling and extremely happy about the jazz lineup at the upcoming 40th Annual Spoleto Festival USA, in beautiful, scenic, historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The 17-day (May 26—June 12, 2016) festival, which features theater, opera, dance, visual art, special events, artist talks and music, is without question, one of America’s must-see and must-be-at cultural events of the summer season. Since its beginnings in 1977, the festival in this pleasant-looking port city, has become the perfect place to be to begin the Memorial Day weekend holiday. The city’s climate, food, scenery, with its palm trees and sea breeze, always makes for a good time for most of the locals and for the thousands who come from all over the world. There has always been jazz music offered at the festival, but, this year’s list of artists, with seven first-class acts, and sponsorship from Wells Fargo Bank, is by far the best.

It all begins Saturday, May 28, 2016, at Simons Center Recital Hall, on the campus of The College Of Charleston, with a 5 p.m. concert featuring the Afro-Cuban group called Bohemian Trio. They are scheduled to perform at Simons at 7 p.m., on that day and will repeat the two sets on May 30 and May 31. Arturo O’ Farril and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra will also perform on Saturday, May 28, 2016, with a 9 p.m. outdoor concert at The Cistern Yard on the campus of the College of Charleston. The jazz music continues the next night, Sunday, May 29, 2016, at 7 p.m., at The Charleston Gaillard Center, with a Charleston favorite, the vibrant, vocalist Rene Marie. Then at 9 p.m., Sunday night, Arturo O ‘Farril and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, a very popular, much-in-demand New York City-based band will play again at The Cistern Yard, at the College of Charleston. On Thursday, June 2, 2016, the National Endowment Of The Arts Jazz Master, the 90-year-old pianist and composer, the great Randy Weston and his African Rhythms Sextet, will be featured at 7 p.m., at The Charleston Gaillard Center.

The following evening, Friday, June 3, 2016, at 9 p.m., the busy, much-acclaimed, female vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, will get a second chance to show the festival attendees why some jazz critics are calling her an original who may be the best thing to happen to the music since Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. She performed in Charleston at Spoleto in 2012 after she won The Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition in 2010. She admitted, during a recent telephone interview from her Harlem, New York apartment, that her career has definitely changed since then. She also said that being compared to some of her influences, or being called by some critics the next new rising female jazz star vocalist, was a bit unrealistic.

“I don’t know about that,” said Salvant, a Grammy winner. “I am definitely performing more, but, I don’t look at it that way. My influences, however, make up a long list — people like Billie, Sarah, Ella Fitzgerald and Abbey Lincoln. But, one of my favorite vocalist of all time is Lil Hardin Armstrong. I just love her record (1938) with her big band ‘Harlem On Saturday Night.’ I love her singing and her piano playing. It has a lot of fun energy. I’m excited about coming back to Charleston for the second time. I will be bringing my working band and the same trio (Aaron Diehl, piano; Paul Sikivie, bass, Lawrence Leathers, drums), that is on my most recent release “For One To Love’ (Mack Avenue Records). “

The next night, Saturday night, June 4, 2016, at 9 p.m., there will be more jazz music available for fans when the pianist Jason Moran is featured at The College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard. His concert is called “Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party.’ Four days later, June 8, 2016, the smooth, velvet voice of singer/pianist Atlanta-based Freddy Cole and his quartet are scheduled to begin a four day (June 8,9,10 and 11, 2016, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.) engagement at the Simons Center Recital Hall at The College Of Charleston.

What a wonderful way to end an excellent blissful variety-filled, fresh, innovative week of American Classical Music, commonly called “jazz.” Supreme congratulations to Larry Blumenfeld and his staff. Thanks for what looks to be a long fun-filled visit to jazz heaven and a charming chance for Charleston to definitely help us let the good times roll! For more information about the 40th Annual Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, May 26-June 12. 2016, call (843) 579-3100 or go to; www.spoletousa.org.