Once again, the weather was perfect for a night of Jazz. Every year it seems to rain at some point during the and create problems later in the evening. Let’s hope it holds off for two more days. Last night, I got down to the Forsyth around 8:30. I was working and I missed the first band that came on. From what I had seen on youtube, it looks like Doc Handy and his congas may have been a great show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3voi6nmOAY8
When I arrived, the Jay Stewart Band was on the stage. I thought they put on a great show. I, of course really enjoyed the featured saxophone solos. They did wonderful covers of Steely Dan’s “Peg” and Hall and Oats “Sarah Smiles” and their originals were also put together well. They did a song called “Blowing Smoke” which I found to be a little humorous, because it is Blowin’ Smoke who hosts the Festival every year. To sample a little bit of what I heard, click here http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jaystewart2
Every year, the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble #1 takes the stage on Friday and they always play behind biggie in the Jazz world. Last year was Stan Killian this year, vibraphone legend Warren Chiasson. First, I want to say about the UNF Jazz Ensemble- they are just amazing. They are kids from 17 or 18 – 20 or 21, and let me tell you, they are as tight as drum. Every single year they come and every single year, they never cease to amaze the audience. The section solos are flawless as the they play in perfect unison. The featured soloists are just simply amazing. They have cds available http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/unfjazz and believe me, what you hear on here, is nothing compared to the live show! This part of the Jazz Festival has come to be one of my favorite parts of the Festival, the electricity is there and they get people on their feet dancing. Warren Chiasson is rated one of the top 5 vibraphonists in the world, so we were lucky to have here. He has played with everybody during his career. I would like to sit with him and hear some of stories. Just like all who are masters of what they do, he makes playing the vibraphone look easy. On Sunday, we saw the preview of what he was going to be like during the Jam Session kick off, and he was great.
Then there was the Jam Session at Blowin’ Smoke after the show, the funnest part of the night. I went early last night, I met Alex and my friend Wes there and we stayed till the end.
What I like most about these sessions is, it is just so laid back and it gives you a chance to talk to the musicians you saw play earlier. Also, you get to see a lot of the local talent Savannah has to offer. Last night, as what usually happens on Friday night of the Festival, several members of the UNF Jazz Ensemble went over. I only knew one of them, Mercedes Beckman, I met her last year. In the big band she plays baritone saxophone and in the jam session she played alto. She plays both superbly. She is in her senior year and will be off to graduate school next year. She may not be around next year, so I am glad I saw her the last two. The other students, whose names I didn’t get were just as superb. If these students are the future of Jazz, I would say the future of Jazz looks promising!