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Bitten to close Summer Concert Series

In the past, inspirational, smooth jazz saxophonist, Jason Bitten, has graced the stages of venues such as the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

On Saturday, Bitten will perform a free concert on the lawn of the Historic Clayton County Courthouse as the final performance in the Jonesboro Summer Concert Series.

Bitten will perform live on Saturday at 7 p.m., on the courthouse lawn, located at 121 South McDonough St., in Jonesboro. Joining him on stage will be pianist, Kenneth Bryant, drummer, Brien Andrews, bass player, Sean Michael Ray, and guitarist, Adrian Byrd.

Past performers in this year's Jonesboro Summer Concert Series include: the local country group, "The Dave Gosdin Band," Elvis tribute artist, Jeff Brewer, and classic rock band, "franklySCARLET."

Jonesboro Councilwoman Pat Sebo, the organizer for Saturday's concert, said Bitten's performance may be the first jazz performance in the history of the concert series.

"I wanted to bring something into the city that I've not seen before," Sebo said. "We are a diverse community, not just in our people, but in our love for music. You really need to offer a little bit of something for everyone's taste.

"We wanted to make it laid-back, Chastain [Park]-kind-of feel," she added. "The music that he [Bitten] brings is really nice because there is spiritual emotion that comes through, and you can hear it when he plays."

According to Bitten, he received the Urban Gospel Industry's Best Gospel Jazz Album of the Year award in 2004 for his album, "At Midnight," and received a "Best New Artist" nomination from the Gospel Choice Awards the same year.

On Saturday, he will perform works from his new album, "Love and Sax," released earlier this summer, as well as covers of tunes by Marvin Gaye, David Sanborn, and Yolanda Adams, he said.

"It's smooth jazz with a little inspirational flare to it," Bitten said. "I think the listeners who come out will get a great show and a little word of encouragement. Kenny G and Kirk Whalum ... If you like those guys, and have heard what they are doing, then you are going to love our show. It's just easy listening.

"I want them [listeners] to not only hear jazz music, but to be inspired," he said.

Sebo said the concert will help bring attention to Jonesboro's recent downtown renovations.

"It's an opportunity to show off the city," she said. "It's under construction, but it's an opportunity for people to see that we are making some changes."

Saturday's concert is free to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets, and coolers and outside food are permitted. For more information, call (770) 478-3800.