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Savannah Jazz Fest - Sept. 19 - 26
(Published: September 15, 2010)

For jazz aficionados and party-lovers alike, the Savannah Jazz Festival will bustle through the city's historic district Sept. 19 - 26.

The 29th official Jazz Festival returns this year with a host of new international, national, regional and local jazz performers. The festival is one of the nation's few jazz fests that remains free to the public.

The festival's international reputation draws a wide range of jazz artists from all over the country.

Since its inception, the festival has featured such famed names as Lionel Hampton, Ahmad Jamal, Clark Terry, Carmen McCray, Nancy Wilson and Ben Riley.

Regular attendees won't be disappointed this year, with a roster that might turn out better than years past.

The lineup includes - among many others - Spyro Gyra, Joe Gransden, Marcus Printup, Andreas Oberg, University of North Florida featuring Thomas Marriott, Howard Paul, Ben Tucker, Teddy Adams, the Coastal Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars, Bob Masteller, Jody Espina, Georgia Kyle, Joe Louis Walker, Eric Mintel Quartet and the Eric Culberson Blues Band. The Savannah Jazz Orchestra will perform with a special guest star.

Savannah's legacy of jazz makes it a natural fit for the convening of talent.

Savannah continues to churn out intense festivals without fail.

For many of the artists of the festival, past and present, Savannah is a revolving door of musical experiences. It is all at once steeped in tradition and ready for more new, lively performers of jazz in its variant forms.

The festival kicks off Sept. 19 with a jazz jam session at the Doubletree Hotel at 5 p.m.

The following day, the Doubletree Hotel will also host a screening of the celebrated jazz documentary, "Martino: Unstrung."

As a young jazz guitar virtuoso, Pat Martino achieved near-legendary status during the '60s and '70s, before being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain condition. The film traces his remarkable return from the depths of amnesia to the peak of artistic achievement.

"‘Martino: Unstrung' is completely absorbing and manages to avoid the myopic cliche that leave so many documentaries about musicians flat and formulaic," said John Huntley of Just Jazz Guitar Magazine. "It succeeds by investigating the many sides of Martino's story and tying them together through the lens of his brain disease.

"Although there are some very tasty clips of Martino's band rehearsing that would make any jazz guitar junkie pay strict attention, this film would be interesting if Martino were a painter or sculptor instead of a world-class musician.

The dvd is available exclusively on line at JazzCorner.com's JazzCares: http://www.jazzcares.com/product_detail.php?pid=604

"And that may be exactly why this documentary is so intriguing - it portrays the human fragility that we all share, genius or not."

Getting to the real meat of the music, the Jazz Festival takes to the stage in Forsyth Park on Thursday, Sept. 23, until Sunday, Sept. 26. Acclaimed Jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra will headline Saturday's act.

In a punchy introduction to Forsyth's subsequent live acts, Thursday will feature a string of performances by Georgia Kyle, Eric Culberson and Joe Louis Walker in what is aptly deemed "Blues Night."

Then, tempering some of the "gutbucket" blues of Thursday will be Friday's "Jazz in the Park" with such forces of jazz as Red Holloway, Oberg and the University of North Florida Jazz Band with venerated jazz trumpeter Thomas Marriott.

"Audiences can expect to hear a wide selection music from the jazz lexicon - original material as well as rearranged contemporary and classic jazz compositions," Marriott said.

Marriot will be accompanied by the University of North Florida big band.

The band consists of four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones and the rhythm section.

All of the music University of North Florida plays will be in the solo-trumpet with big-band format. They will also play songs composed by Marriot, trumpeters Woody Shaw and Roy Hargrove, Chick Corea, the Brecker Brothers and many others.

"I hope that it will be an exciting and engaging performance for all of the listeners who check out the show," Marriot said.

More Information: http://www.savannahjazzfestival.org/

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