The Bad Plus, Herbie Hancock Quintet, Ken Ford and the Pete Escovedo Orchestra are among the slew of artists slated to perform at the 30th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival over Memorial Day weekend.

The Bad Plus, Herbie Hancock Quintet, Ken Ford and the Pete Escovedo Orchestra are among the slew of artists slated to perform at the 30th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival over Memorial Day weekend. To be held May 26-28 at Piedmont Park, the festival has tis year added the Future of Jazz stage, featuring newer avant-garde artists.

Acts like William Green, Joey Sommerville, Laws Family, Terri Lyne Carrington, Nefatari Bey and Charles Tolliver Big Band are also on the fest's bill.

The Atlanta Jazz Festival is also presenting a trio of dates for the Soulful Sounds of the City concert series at Chastain Park Amphitheatre. George Benson and Al Jarreau will perform Saturday (April 14), Joe Sample and Randy Crawford will take the stage May 12 and Aretha Franklin is scheduled for Sept. 1. Tickets are now on sale.

The festival's organizers are also busy sorting out 31 Days of Jazz, a new performance initiative to host jazz events every day in May.


-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.







Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban, actor Luke Wilson, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, Russell Crowe, Willie Nelson and acclaimed producer Don Was will all be part of a tribute to Kris Kristofferson at the 2007 CMT Music Awards. Kristofferson is being honored with the Johnny Cash Visionary Award, which will be presented to him by Cash's daughter, Rosanne Cash.

Meanwhile, Big & Rich, Blake Shelton, Randy Owen of Alabama and Ross "The Intern" Mathews have been added to the presenter lineup for the show, which airs live April 16 from Nashville's Curb Event Center at Belmont University. The show will be hosted by Jeff Foxworthy.


-- Ken Tucker, Nashville







Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles' company, has appointed Jeff Jones as chief executive officer after the departure of long-standing CEO Neil Aspinall. Jones joins Apple Corps Ltd. from Legacy Recordings/Sony BMG Catalog Worldwide, where he was executive VP.

It is unusual for an outsider to take such a senior position at Apple Corps, but Jones' experience is particularly relevant with the Beatles' back catalog set to be made available as digital downloads once an agreement is reached.

Aspinall worked with the Beatles for more than 45 years, starting out as their part-time road manager. He was a school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison at the Liverpool Institute.

In a statement, Apple Corps said that Aspinall "played an indispensable role" in the Beatles' career. No further reasons were given for his departure from the record company, which is owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison.


-- Andre Paine, London