Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jazz Tracks #3: Clearwater Jazz Holiday - Lineup Now Official: Tony Bennett, Joey DeFrancesco, Stefon Harris, more

The lineup for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday is finally official, and there are a few more names to add to what has already been announced on this blog and elsewhere.

As mentioned in an earlier post, jazz aficionados are most excited by the presence of B3 organ wizard Joey DeFrancesco, in-demand vibraphonist Stefon Harris and legendary singer Tony Bennett on the bill.

Also making noise on the jazz scene is a rising star - saxophonist-singer Grace Kelly, whose first-rate quartet includes pianist Doug Johnson, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

Saxophonist David Sanborn, bassist Kyle Eastwood (Clint's son) and ex-Crusaders keyboardist Joe Sample will bring varying quantities of smooth jazz and lite funk - with any luck it won't be strictly middle-of-the-road.

The bill also includes R&B/smooth-jazz singer Patti Austin, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet (sons of Dave Brubeck), and Soviet-born piano prodigy Eldar.

Oddly enough, TWO bands representing neo-swing, a trend that had its day and passed away a decade ago, are also on the bill: The locally based Venturas play Sunday afternoon, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, rather inexplicably, returns to the Jazz Holiday stage for a headlining show on Saturday night.

This year's local talent also includes a big band led by longtime Tampa Bay area drummer Ken Loomer; pianist Karen Benjey; and the Ruth Eckerd Hall/CJH Jazz Youth Band with bassist Billy Norris. Billy, now studying with Harvey Swartz at the Manhattan School of Music, grew up in the Tampa Bay area and he's now making inroads on the New York scene.

IMO, the Jazz Holiday would have benefited by reducing the neo-swing and smooth jazz fare, and including on the bill representatives from any of the following categories:

A jazz legend/elder statesman (instrumentalist) - James Moody? Hank Jones? Phil Woods? Jimmy Heath? Charlie Haden?

An actual swing player - Why not one of the musicians associated with Mat Domber's long-running Arbors Records, which is based in the festival's own back yard?

A jazz fusion guitarist - Pat Metheny? John Scofield? Mike Stern?

A major big band

A Latin or Brazilian jazz artist

A New Orleans artist

Or even a jazzy jamband

Still, too few major jazz artists play the Tampa Bay area, and it will be a treat hearing several of these performers, and enjoying the breezy, waterside setting of Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater.

The Jazz Holiday is slated for Oct. 16-19, and admission is free. For the complete lineup/schedule, see below or go here.

Thursday, October 16th
5:00pm Gates Open
5:30pm to 6:30pm BK Jackson
7:00pm to 8:00pm Kyle Eastwood Band
8:30pm to 10:00pm Tony Bennett

Friday, October 17th
4:00pm Gates Open
4:30pm to 5:30pm Karen Benjey
6:00pm to 7:15pm Stefon Harris & Blackout
7:45pm to 9:00pm Joe Sample
9:30pm to 11:00pm David Sanborn

Saturday, October 18th
2:30pm Gates Open
3:45pm to 5:00pm Ken Loomer Big Band
5:30pm to 6:45pm Grace Kelly Quintet
7:15pm to 8:45pm Brubeck Brothers Quartet
9:15pm to 10:45pm Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
10:45pm Fireworks

Sunday, October 19th
1:00pm Gates Open
1:45pm to 2:30pm REH/CJH Jazz Youth Band with Billy Norris
3:00pm to 4:15pm The Venturas
4:45pm to 6:00pm Eldar Djangirov Trio
6:30pm to 8:00pm Joey DeFrancesco Trio
8:30pm to 10:00pm Patti Austin and the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Orchestra

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