SARASOTA, FL: Louis Armstrong famously said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Now, thanks to the Jazz Club of Sarasota, you don’t even have to ask. The Club lays it all out for music lovers from March 3-9 with the 39th Annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, when 120+ performers present 48 jazz-related activities.
The schedule this year features five styles of live jazz (straightahead, blues, Latin, classic and contemporary), a movie starring Dexter Gordon, and a new play with music about Louis Armstrong and Lil Hardin Armstrong, the wife who helped make him a star. In keeping with the theme “Generations of Jazz,” artistic director Ken Peplowski—“arguably the greatest living jazz clarinetist” (BBC2)—teams established musicians with rising stars, to create never-before-heard combinations of talent.
Sarasota’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, the festival’s home, provides special discount packages for jazz lovers who don’t want to miss a minute of the wall-to-wall music and can also experience other nearby attractions on Florida’s Cultural Coast. Thirteen other venues are also participating during the week to get the city swinging.
The festival has grown exponentially, from seven events in 2018 to 48 this year. “We’re bringing more jazz, and more styles of jazz, to more places,” said Jazz Club president Ed Linehan. Besides the Hyatt, other festival locations in Sarasota include Phillippi Estate Park,5500 S. Tamiami Trail; Burns Court Cinema, 506 Burns Lane; St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2256 Bahia Vista Street; and ten area clubs participating in the pub crawl by trolley.
In addition to Hyatt discount packages, the Sarasota Jazz Festival provides a mix of free and ticketed events. “With Jazz in the Park on March 3, people just have to show up for an afternoon of jazz in a picnic setting,” Linehan said. Admission to other activities is available through single tickets, VIP passes, and several discount combination packages. “We especially encourage people to consider the benefits of the Hyatt Regency Hotel package–but it’s a limited-time offer.”
On his return engagement as music director, Peplowski has assembled nationally and internationally prominent musicians for “Generations of Jazz,” teaming established performers with rising stars: DICK HYMAN, BILL CHARLAP, SHELLY BERG (piano); RANDY BRECKER,RANDY SANDKE, JAMES SUGGS (trumpet); HOUSTON PERSON, ROXY COSS, AARON JOHNSON (saxophone); JOHN LAMB (bass); and MARY STALLINGS and CHARLES TURNER(vocals). The UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI FROST CONCERT JAZZ BAND will also perform and LA LUCHA, the festival house band, will back up the concerts with its trio: ALEJANDRO ARENAS,(bass), MARK FEINMAN (drums) and JOHN O’LEARY (piano). At the shows Peplowski will interview these musicians about their influences and inspirations.
In addition to the mainstage performances, this year the Jazz Club introduces afternoon concerts on Friday and Saturday featuring four bands playing concurrently on four themed stages, allowing festival-goers to move among them. Each stage features masters in the specific genres:Blues Stage, SELWYN BIRCHWOOD , LAUREN MITCHELL, BETTY FOX; Contemporary Stage,JEREMY CARTER, HIRAM HAZLEY, MARLON BOONE; Classic Stage, ALLAN VACHÉ, KATT HEFNER,GENE BERTONCINI; Latin Stage, JOE DELANEY, TOM CARABASI, FRANKIE PINEIRO.
The Jazz Club has also drawn on its experience to present audience favorite events includingJazz in the Park, started over 30 years ago; the Satchmo Award, the 32nd annual presentation of the Jazz Club’s highest honor; the Jazz Pub Crawl by Trolley, now in its 22nd year; and Jazz Goes to the Movies, a jazz film with a live music introduction. Details appear in the file, “”Overview & Schedule” for these activities and the following new events. For the 39th Sarasota Jazz Festival the Club has:
- Moved its major venue from traditional auditoriums to Sarasota’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.
- Added a theatrical event, a workshop production of Lil & Louis, a new play by JO MORELLO about Lil and Louis Armstrong, known in the 1920s and 1930s as “First Couple of Jazz.” (Note: The first two performances are sold out and a third has been added.)
- Initiated a high school band contest, held on January 27, 2019. Professional, working musicians chose the first-, second- and third-place winners: Pine View Jazz Ensemble, North Port High School, and Sarasota High Admirals, respectively. Witness the future of jazz as the three winning bands plays the opening acts, one band each evening, for the acclaimed musicians performing on the mainstage. In addition, the young performers meet the renowned musicians afterwards.
- Established VIP and discounted combination tickets, most notably VIP hotel packages,with rooms at the Hyatt Regency, the festival’s home.
INFORMATION AND TICKETS: Admission to Sarasota Jazz Festival events ranges from free to a peak of $55 for single tickets, with discounts for Jazz Club members and buyers of combination tickets. Packages including hotel and other VIP offers provide admission to private musician meet-and-greets and preferred seating at some events. The Sarasota Jazz Festival website offers a one-stop approach for information and tickets athttps://www.sarasotajazzfestival.org/schedule—tickets.html. For Festival information visit sarasotajazzfestival.org, email email@example.com, or call the Jazz Club office (941.366-1552, Wed-Fri, 9-5 eastern time). In addition details on the Sarasota Jazz Festival website, further information is provided in the two attached documents, a detailed Festival schedule and musician bios (with links) are attached.
MISSION AND PURPOSE: The Jazz Club of Sarasota, founded in 1980, is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz, America’s original musical art form. The Club has provided over 50 jazz-related events each year for over 38 years. Chief among them is the highly respected Sarasota Jazz Festival, presented every March. In addition to producing numerous jazz events, over the years the Club has granted over $200,000 to aspiring young jazz musicians. To learn more, visit www.jazzclubsarasota.org.
SPONSORS: “We’re very grateful to the sponsors whose contributions help to make our festival possible,” Linehan said. “Our activities were paid for in part by generous donations from our principal sponsors, Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues, Arbors Records, the Harold and Evelyn R. Davis Memorial Foundation and The Jazz Cruise. We’re also grateful for contributions from media sponsors and partner organizations, which are listed on our website,Sarasota Jazz Festival.”