The Art of Cool Festival

Various Venues, Downtown Durham

Friday, May 6–Sunday May 8, $50–$285

At a glance, the lineup for the third-annual

Art of Cool Festival may seem thin. Compared with Hopscotch, Moogfest, or even the first two iterations of downtown Durham’s jazz-and-soul convocation, the quantity of acts is notably limited.

But dig into the artists and sounds themselves, and you’ll soon begin to notice an inquisitive connectedness between many of these artistsin how they use their music to ask tough questions about society, about genre, about divisions between the physical, spiritual, and sonic sides of the music they make. The quality is unwavering, the programming itself of a thoughtful whole.

We approach Art of Cool 2016 by exploring many of the same questions and connections, in interviews and essays that, like Art of Cool itself, ask exactly how jazz in the twenty-first century relates to the wider world around it.

For night-by-night festival guides and daily reviews, visit our music blog.

Art of Cool Started with Jazz. To Survive, They Needed More.

Finding Modern Democracy in Modern Jazz

Terence Blanchard on Putting Civil Unrest to a Groove

The Internet on Why Pop Music Matters Right Now