After a one-year break, the Youngstown Jazz Festival is coming back to Federal Plaza.
Organizer Jerry Costa said the inaugural event headlined by Spyro Gyra and Tab Benoit in 2010 was a success, drawing nearly 4,000 downtown for the outdoor concert.
''It was a nice event,'' he said. ''We got a lot of accolades.''
However, he wasn't able to line up enough sponsorship support to try it again last year, he said. Whether it's the economy or other factors, sponsorship dollars still were tight this year, but Costa in partnership with the HandsOn Volunteer Network of the Valley are collaborating on a second concert.
This year's lineup is lead by Najee and Alex Bugnon.
''I figure if we're going to bring it back, usually you have to go stronger,'' Costa said. ''Najee is one the strongest smooth jazz artists out there. He was a top priority for us to get.''
WHAT: Youngstown Jazz Festival with Najee, Alex Bugnon, Hubb's Groove, Michael Austin, Howard and the Point 5 Band and the Karla Seldon Review
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday (Gates open at 4 p.m.)
WHERE: Federal Plaza, downtown Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $15. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and from
HandsOn Volunteer Network of the Valley at 330-782-5877.
Najee, who plays both saxophone and flute, has released two platinum and four gold albums since graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. The multi-instrumentalist has collaborated with such artists as Prince, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock, he's performed for President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and he's appeared on ''The Tonight Show'' and ''Good Morning America.''
His latest album is ''The Smooth Side of Soul.'' The Shanachie Entertainment release includes appearances by Jeff Lorber, Chris ''Big Dog'' Davis, Phil Perry and Pieces of a Dream's James Lloyd, who lives in Youngstown.
Swiss-born keyboard player Bugnon has appeared on both the jazz, pop and R&B charts with his contemporary jazz recordings. In addition to his own albums, he has recorded with such R&B acts as Patti Austin, James Ingram and Keith Sweat.
''It's a good combination,'' Costa said. ''With Najee on saxophone and Alex on keyboard, they're two different types of artists.''
Along with the national headliners, Saturday's concert will feature sets by Hubb's Groove, Michael Austin, Howard and the Point 5 Band and the Karla Seldon Review.
''We try to mix and match with the national acts both region and local groups to support the local musicians,'' he said. ''There is a lot of talent here.''
Food vendors will be on site in addition to the downtown restaurants to cater to the concertgoers.
Costa has been promoting music festivals in the United States and Europe for more than 20 years, he said. Because of that experience, he didn't need to make too many changes between 2010 and this weekend's concerts. The most noticeable change will be moving the stage to a different part of Federal Plaza at Federal and Market streets to provide more space for the crowd.
''We'll probably have more trash containers (this time), but everything ran pretty well the last time,'' he said.
Advance ticket sales also are ahead of 2010.
''Hopefully, we'll draw between 4,000 and 5,000 people.''