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Branford Marsalis, Musiq Excite Music Lovers at Jazz in the Gardens

Sy Smith

The lovely weather continued in Miami, and patrons were excited about day two of the Jazz in the Gardens music festival. Newcomer Sy Smith kicked things off and got the crowd ready for a day and evening of incredible music.

New Orleans native and jazz legend Branford Marsalis hit the stage with his intriguing brand of jazz music,  and I sat down one-on-one with the talented musician who stated, “I’m so excited about being asked to play at Jazz in the Gardens, and anytime that I have the opportunity to play for a big crowd like this and be in a great place like Miami Gardens, I jump at the chance.”

Musiq then took to the stage and gave us his hits like “Just Friends,” “Half Crazy” and many more. Even though he was a replacement act for the recovering El Debarge (who entered himself back into rehab), the 50,000 or so music fans didn’t seem to mind.

The ladies of EnVogue - Maxine Jones,Cindy Herron, Dawn Robinson, and Terry Ellis

As the sun started to go down, the group known as the “Funky Divas” hit the stage. All of the lovely ladies of En Vogue came to remind us why they were such an extraordinary group back in the day. Cindy Herron, Terry Ellis, Maxine Jones and even Dawn Robinson belted out “Never Gonna Get It,” “Love Don’t Love You” and “Hold On” as they sang, danced and kept the crowd grooving to their ’90s beat.

Soon after, music legend Gladys Knight appeared on the stage and brought back the days of old with her hits “Neither One of Us,” “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Love Overboard,” just to name a few. There was more than just a hint of nostalgia in the air. There was also love and respect for the R&B icons.

Ronald Isley

Finally, to end the evening, none other than the incomparable Isley Brothers took the stage and performed the show of a lifetime. Ronald Isley, along with his brother Ernie, have not performed together in many years, but you couldn’t tell that from the way they showed out. Songs like “Between the Sheets,” “Shout” and “For the Love of You” are all timeless classics that fans young and old can identify with and, by the looks of everyone in the crowd mouthing the lyrics to each song, I could definitely see why.

Overall, Jazz in the Gardens was a wonderful experience that culminated in great music, fun and just good times. Here are three reasons you should attend next year:

Miami – The place that truly never sleeps with that gorgeous weather, South Beach, great shopping and pure ambiance.

Marvelous music and hosts – This year’s line-up included such an interesting array of artists from Lauryn Hill, Al Jarreau, Charlie Wilson and the Isley Brothers. We already know next year’s line up will be awesome and that Michael Baisden and George Wilborn will set it off right as hosts.

Exciting “carrying on” – Where else can you find great food, fun, music, excitement, nostalgia and even people doing a Soul Train line in between acts? Nowhere but the 7th Annual “Jazz in the Gardens.”

I hope to see you in Miami next year because it’s a once in a lifetime experience. –christa e. jackson