Five Fridays of Jazz Concerts Return to Libraries!

Music lovers of all ages are invited to sit back, relax and unwind to the soulful sounds of jazz at the Library! Back for an encore season, Five Fridays of Free Jazz concerts are returning to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Ave.), thanks to a partnership between Memphis Public Libraries, the Levitt Shell, and the Memphis Library Foundation.

Beginning March 9, concerts will be held every other Friday at 6:30 p.m. Food and drinks will be available to purchase at the events.

The 5 Fridays of Free Jazz concert series, which is in its third year, seeks to build community by connecting both new and established audiences with jazz music.

“The Five Fridays of Free Jazz concerts always get rave reviews from our customers, who vary in age and ethnicity, but who share the same love for music,” said Director of Libraries Keenon McCloy. “We love this partnership with the Levitt Shell and the joy these concerts bring to so many music lovers in Memphis and the surrounding areas.”

Here are the dates and information about the performances:

March 9 | World Soul Project 

The World Soul Project is a group of musicians who celebrate the wealth of music traditions from around the world by blending them into a brilliant collage. The result is – at times exhilarating, at other times soothing – but always soul stirring music that draws heavily from Brazil, Africa and the Southern US. The blend includes Brazilian and African beats, hip hop, jazz and funk.

March 23 | Hope Clayburn’s Soul Scrimmage with Joyce Cobb: Honoring National Women’s History Month

Clayburn’s funky saxophone, flute chops, and soulful vocals have given her the opportunity to play with prestigious musicians such as James Brown, The Allman Brothers Band, Maceo Parker, and the North Mississippi All Stars. She came back to Memphis after European tour in 2009 with The Dynamites. Her band Soul Scrimmage mixes soul and funk tunes with afrobeat and reggae, which is intended to create an energetic and uplifting atmosphere. The band features Hope on sax and flute. She also provides vocals and serves as composer.

Joyce Cobb is recognized as one of Memphis’ finest vocalists.  For decades, Joyce Cobb has been delivering her unique elegant style of jazz, pop, contemporary, and soul music to audiences throughout the Mid-South region and across the country! And she cultivates one of the deepest song lists you’ll ever listen to – everything from jazz to blues, standards to pop, R&B to country, and even some “scattin’” and reggae thrown in for good measure.

April 6 | The Maguire Twins

Carl Seitaro Maguire and Alan Shutaro Maguire, were born in Tokyo but grew up in Hong Kong. At age 15, they moved to Memphis and joined Stax Music Academy. At Stax, they found jazz and met Kirk Whalum, a Grammy winning saxophonist, and Donald Brown, who later became their teacher, mentor and producer. Their passionate playing style has been capturing the attention of many listeners of music including those who have no prior knowledge of jazz. In 2017, they recorded their second album, ‘Seeking Higher Ground’, which will be released on March 30 and this performance will serve as an album release party.

April 20 | Southern Comfort Jazz Orchestra

The Southern Comfort Jazz Orchestra has a long reputation of musical excellence at the University of Memphis. The group is comprised of 17 outstanding full-time university student musicians ranging from undergraduates through doctoral candidates. The ensemble performs a wide range of styles from composers Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington to modern composers such as Jim McNeely and Bob Brookmeyer.

May 4 | Ekpe and the African Jazz Ensemble

A rare appearance by Ekpe Abioto and the African Jazz Ensemble, a 10-piece band made up of some of Memphis’ finest musicians. The core of the band began in the early 70s as the soul group the Exotic Movement, and later changed their name to Galaxy. They’ve played together for over 40 years, and members have toured the world with Michael Jackson, Al Green, BB King, Eric Clapton, the Dells, Luther Allison, and Rufus and Carla Thomas. They formed the African Jazz Ensemble as a way to incorporate African influences into more traditional jazz, soul and R&B.

For more information about the 5 Fridays of Free Jazz concert series, please visit


Story by: Abbey Judd, Levitt Shell
Photos by: Marcey Wright, Memphis Public Libraries