Melton Mustafa

The 20th annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival celebrates its two-decade anniversary this weekend at a new destination. 

Previously hosted by Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, the festival moves to Overtown Friday, Feb. 24, through Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Black Archives’ Historic Lyric Theater, 819 NW Second Ave.

The three-day music festival — headlined by international jazz trumpeter Melton Mustafa and his 18-piece big band — features a selection of the best jazz musicians in the world. This year, the event welcomes Jesse Jones Jr., Troy Roberts, Valerie Tyson, Patrick Bartley, Willerm Delisfort, Leon Foster Thomas, Shareef Clayton, Jean Caze, Doug Michaels, Yamin Mustafa, Allen Paul, Diron Holloway, Jason Hainsworth, the New Vision Sax Ensemble and the Tri- County Honors High School Big Band conducted by Nicole Yarling. Other special guests include the winners of the Melton Mustafa Jazz Combo Festival; the Florida Memorial University Ambassador Chorale conducted by Mel White; select local, middle school and high school bands; accomplished authors, artists, vendors and more.

This year’s festival is hosted by the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. at the 103-year old Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown. In its heyday, Overtown was called, “The Harlem of the South,” and was home to night life which rivaled the biggest, hottest clubs around the country. Musical greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin and more graced the stages of the nightclubs, theaters and hotels that line Northwest Second Avenue, known then as “Little Broadway.” 

In partnership with MSM Arts and Florida Memorial University, the Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival is joining with host location sponsor The Black Archives to bring jazz back to Overtown.

“The Melton Mustafa Big Band is keeping the jazz tradition alive,” said Melton Mustafa Sr., founder and director of the Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival. “The Ellington Band did, Count Basie and Charles Mingus did, and now I’m paving the way for young musicians to get on board and carry the torch.”

The Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival kicks off Friday with the FMU VIP reception from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by a film presented by the Miami Jazz & Film Society from 7:30-9 p.m. Live jazz, artists, authors and vendors will be available. On Saturday, Feb. 25, the day is jam-packed with workshops, a master class, featured bands and vendors from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Then the festival concludes Sunday with a red carpet event at 5 p.m. and a concert from 6-9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/20th-annual-melton-mustafa-jazz-festival-weekend. For more information, call 305-623-3063 or visit meltonmustafajazzfestival@gmail.com.

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