It’s time again for cool jazz in a warm setting. The 20th annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival is set for July 25 and 26 outside the famous Dunbar Hotel in South Los Angeles. Each year, the family-friendly event celebrates the city’s rich history of jazz at one of the nation’s seminal locations of African American urban history and culture.

There’s never a charge to hear some of the city’s best jazz and blues musicians; all you need do is arrive ready to enjoy some of your favorite culinary delights, cool summertime refreshments, meet and greet old and new friends, and enjoy two days of great music.

“For two decades now, this iconic event has helped celebrate our community’s rich cultural past, our present and future,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price whose ninth district once served as the original cultural hub of Black Los Angeles. “This year the festival will be expanded into three stages of live music, various pavilions focused on health and wellness, children’s activities, business and employment services along with food and merchandise vendors.”

There’s a new aspect to the festival this year; Price has partnered with creative professionals to present a free series of month-long pre-events at the Dunbar Hotel, 4225 S. Central Ave., that will include on July 18 a pair of academic symposiums about the history and legacy of Central Avenue. July 21 will feature a performance of the Theater Perception Consortium’s production of “Excerpts from the North on South Central Avenue.”

Leading up to the festival, Jose Rizo, a local jazz radio pioneer, will discuss his memories of the many great performers who once graced the stage at the Dunbar during its heyday in the 1940s. Rizo is also expected to speak about some of the talented new performers who have taken up the mantle of jazz.

“There’s something for everyone,” Rizo said. “From artists like Barbara Morrison, Ray Goran, and Poncho Sanchez, to bands including the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, A Place Called Home, and the Tony White Quintet, you’re bound to have a terrific time at this year’s jazz festival.”

Mark Wilson, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, encourages jazz lovers to attend the festival. His non-profit organization has for many years been a co-sponsor of the event.

“It is so important not only because it celebrates the history of jazz, but because it also significantly furthers community development in South Los Angeles,” Wilson said.

Metro has a limited number of special commemorative TAP cards which are reusable and come with $5 worth of bus or train fares. Visit www.metro.net to use Metro’s “Trip Planner” to find out the best routes to the festival.

For more details about the festival, its lineup and pre-events, visit www.centralavejazz.org.