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2024 JazzFest

Saturday and Sunday
At 10am each day, we start off with performances by local and area middle school, high school, and college jazz bands. This is always a favorite time for families to cheer on the younger musicians who are carrying on the tradition of Jazz music.
Saturday, April 6

We welcome a diversity of styles, and for 2024, we present quite a range

Leading off on Saturday, Matt McCarty and the Sidewinder 7. This exciting band will explore funk and fusion with fiery and wild abandon. Everything from the Crusaders to Blue Mitchell to Stanley Turrentine.

Follow that up with Dr. Jill and Gary Wofsey with special guest, Allen Beeson on trumpet. Gary writes sophisticated, (read that as ‘difficult’) arrangements and takes melodies where they’ve never gone before. Jill has a doctorate on flute and plays piano and bass in this group.

Next up, world renowned low flutist on alto and bass, Ali Ryerson, recently returned from her performan
ce at the Monterey Jazz Fest. You may not be familiar with the alto flute but after hearing Ali in concert, you’ll want some of her recordings for sure. She has an extensive discography and over 50 years of professional performances. Backing her up will be the Mike Levine Quartet.

Following Ali, Mike Levine will remain on stage with his Quintet…Miami Spice,and head straight for the Latin rhythms he’s so well known for. Having been the pianist for 25 years for the Miami based Sabado Gigantic weekly variety show, the rhythms are just part of his DNA.

To close out the Saturday lineup, our own Jazz Pensacola Orchestra, an 18 piece big band directed by Douglas Holsworth will light a fire you won’t forget.

Don’t forget to stop by the Odd Colony Brewery on Palafox for the Saturday night jam 8:30 -11:00. The Mike Levine Trio will be the house band, all festival musicians are invited. Free to the public.

Sunday, April 7

Following the Band Director’s Band on Sunday we’ll be Swingin’ with John Saavedra, virtuoso guitarist in many styles from New Orleans. He and his band will be exploring the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt as well as more modern composers in that genre.

Next up, Pearl Ash Jazz with the dynamic, always entertaining Pearl at the helm. Vivacious and exciting, she and her band will really deliver the goods. Her recent tribute to Nina Simone at Seville Quarter was a tremendous success. Utilizing her stage actress skills she wowed the crowd.

Then, True Connection takes the stage with their smoothed out sax driven renditions of jazz classics. We know from the crowd reaction at a recent jam session, they stole the show.

Finally, from New Orleans, Ablar, Danny Abel, guitar and Joe Ashlar, organ/keys. Clips of their NOLA club dates will make you wonder if this is real….they are so good and there’s nothing like a killer organ based trio with sensational guitar work to close out the festival.

So there you have it. One monstrous weekend of great music, different styles, unusual instruments and energy to boot!

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