The 31st annual Savannah Jazz Festival kicked off Sunday, September 23 with the usual opening Jam Session starting at 5:00pm. We got there just after 6:00 and it was a full house under the tent at Blowin’ Smoke. We were able to find a couple of seats and put our names in to get a table in the back. They have an area where you get food, such as pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers and also get beers. To get served though, there are limited tables, but well worth the wait as you listen to the music. It is a great set up they put on there.
As always, the Jam Session is hosted by Teddy and several of the Coastal Jazz Association members get up and play familiar and not so familiar standards. Throughout the evening, vocalists- both male and female got up there to sing. Horn players took turns and everyone had a chance to show their stuff. This being the 4th time I have been, was not disappointed. It is always a great show. It was Alex’s first time there and she had a great time. Local legends such as Jody Espina, Howard Paul, Eric Jones and Huxsie Scott were all present and as always did amazing solos and performances. There were a couple of surprises too, the legendary Warren Chiasson, who plays the vibraphone showed up and gave us a “preview” of what is to come later in the week as he takes the stage in Forsyth Park on Friday night. There was also a man, and I don’t know his name, who played the steel drum and had the crowd on their feet. He added a wonderful element to show! I think he was here last year, but I missed him. I am grateful to have seen him this year and hope that he comes for the the Jam sessions later in the week. There was one other surprise- to me, anyway- a fellow musician who was a busker on River St. for years was there. His name is Rasheed. A couple of years ago, he had a liver transplant and I hadn’t heard anything about how he was doing since there was a fundraiser for him. It was such a treat to see him on opening night and see that is doing well. He plays the soprano saxophone and he is an excellent musician. It was really good to see/hear him play again and get to talk to him. The show ended around 10ish and it was hard to imagine that we had been there that long. It almost felt like we were just getting warmed up. There will be more of these Jam Sessions later in the week and I am looking forward to them! Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures available but I will in upcoming posts.
Monday night of the Jazz Festival is movie night, sponsored by the Psychotronic Film Society. (Click the link below to learn more about that)
I have only missed one of the films in the 4 that I have been to. The ones I have seen were all excellent, so I knew this would be too. This year they showed “In Good Time: The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland”. I am embarrassed to say, I didn’t know who she is. Well, I do now, she is amazing! She has played with or knew EVERYONE. This was a documentary filmed over the course of 4 years. She was 92 when the film was finished, she is 94 now. She still plays and is still lively. There was a treat on that night too. The director of the film, James “Huey” Coleman Jr. was there and he presented it and stayed for a Q&A session when the movie was over. He also signed copies of the dvd for those who wished to purchase it. For those who don’t know about Marian Mcpartland, I encourage you to check her out and do a little research on her and find out about her. Here is a video of her performing “In the Mist” She plays beautifully.
The first two days of the Jazz Festival always get me fired up for the rest of the week. It is what I look forward to all year, as many of you know- it is what brought me to Savannah! Hope to see some of you later this week!