Neojazz vocalist Chantae Cann opens for The Christian McBride Trio on April 23. (Photo: Contributed)

The annual Jazzanooga music festival has officially launched in Chattanooga to coincide with National Jazz Appreciation Month.

This year's event offers three full weekends of live music throughout the city, including a series of headliner shows from Grammy Award-winning jazz artists. 

A downloadable version of the schedule is available here. Many of the midmonth events are either free or inexpensive to attend. 

Created in 2011, Jazzanooga offers residents a citywide celebration of jazz music with an emphasis on high-quality live performances and a focus on Chattanooga's extraordinary jazz heritage.

All proceeds collected during the month will benefit the promotion of future live music events and music education. Click here for more information.

Julian Lage will perform at Revelry Room on April 24. (Photo: Jimmy Katz)

Jazzanooga kicked off Sunday afternoon with a celebration in Coolidge Park and music from Sweet Georgia Sound.

Festivities continue this weekend with a juke joint session and a bluegrass meets jazz celebration on Friday. Saturday features a Martin Luther King Boulevard walking tour and All That Drag, a drag show accompanied by jazz.

Shane Morrow and James McKissic created Jazzanooga after attending the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

Now in its fifth year, Jazzanooga continues to work toward a mission of inclusion and quality.

"Our goal is to find ways to incorporate a jazz influence for whatever you're into," McKissic said. "A lot of people will be familiar with the music, and if people come to these shows, they'll be amazed at the mastery of these musicians. They are some of the best in contemporary music."

And there's a reason for that. McKissic wants Jazzanooga to be much more than just a music festival.

"We want the best," he said. "Our track record has been great; we have Grammy Award-winning artists every year. We always try to bring the best music and the best jazz musicians ... because Chattanooga deserves a great jazz festival."

The Christian McBride Trio performs at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Centennial Theater. (Photo: Contributed)

The weekend of April 15–17 also offers plenty of opportunities to engage with jazz. The Bessie Smith Cultural Center presents "The Life and Times of Big Mama Thornton" on April 15. On April 16, a piano will be set up in the lobby of The Public Library during the afternoon. Guests are invited to enjoy free piano jazz from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 17 features a gospel and soul brunch at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center. Tickets are $20 in advance.

Tickets are expected to sell out quickly for each event. Those interested are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. 

Jazzanooga's MLK Boulevard brick-and-mortar location will host PechaKucha on April 21.

The rest of the final weekend includes a series of headlining concerts from nationally known jazz performers.

Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Octet
O'Farrill is a pianist, composer, educator, founder and artistic director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance. He won a Best Latin Jazz Album Grammy Award for 2009's "Song of Chico." Tickets are $30 in advance. An after-party will take place at Jazzanooga following the event. Click here for tickets.

When: Friday, April 22, 7:30 p.m.
Where: 149 E. M.L. King Blvd.
How much: $30

The Christian McBride Trio with Chantae Cann
The Christian McBride Trio, fronted by a five-time Grammy Award winner, will perform at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Centennial Theater at 7 p.m. The concert will also feature neosoul and jazz vocalist Chantae Cann as the opening act. Tickets are available here for $30 in advance.

When: Saturday, April 23, 7 p.m.
Where: 1400 Market St.
How much: $30

Julian Lage with Julie Dexter
Julian Lage has been a closely watched guitarist for years. He was the subject of a 1997 documentary called "Jules at Eight," which heralded him as a child prodigy. Now 27, Lage has a résumé that would make any budding guitarist jealous. He has performed with Gary Burton, Jim Hall, David Grisman, Bela Fleck and Charles Lloyd. It doesn't stop there; he's performed with Wilco's Nels Cline, pianist Fred Hersch and Punch Brothers guitarist Chris Eldridge. Guitar fans, music fans and everyone in between will enjoy the show. Tickets are $20. Julie Dexter, a British neosoul and jazz sensation, will open the show. Click here for tickets.

When: Sunday, April 24, 5 p.m.
Where: 41 E. 14th St.
How much: $20