Savannah Jazz Festival brings in internationally known musicians

Whether you feel like singing the blues or jamming with high-energy boogie, music continues to pop at the Savannah Jazz Festival through Sunday.

From contemporary to classical, jazz continues to be offered for free when local and internationally known artists perform in Forsyth Park in Savannah.

"The festival is quintessential Savannah because it is the one event other than maybe St. Patrick's Day that brings the entire community together," said festival committee chairman Howard Paul, a guitarist who will perform at this weekend's festival.

Today's main act, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, will light up the park during their show at 9:30 p.m., Paul said. Earlier in the day, gospel returns to the 31st annual festival when the Savannah State University Wesleyan Gospel Choir takes the stage at 7:15 p.m.

"(The choir) is a really powerful group," Paul said.

On Friday, vibraphonist Warren Chiasson will perform at 9:30 p.m. with the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble.

The Jay Stewart Band is not to be missed on Friday, Paul said.

"Jay is guy from Middle Georgia who grew up as a rock 'n' roll guitar player on a steady diet of Allman Brothers, became an attorney and is now a sitting superior court judge," Paul said. "The last few years he has rededicated himself to music and recently released a compact disc."

Saturday's must see performance is that of 15-year-old Slovakian Andreas Varady. Varady, a prodigy jazz guitarist, recently performed with legendary producer Quincy Jones' Global Gumbo Projecct combo at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The teen also spent the past week working with Jones in Los Angeles and New York City. St. Helena Island native Delbert Felix, a Hilton Head Island resident will perform with Varady.

Sunday will feature "the Savannah Children's Jazz Festival" featuring two bands as well as members of the Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame Band.

Overall, the festival is the perfect opportunity to showcase what some call America's classical music, Paul said.

"(Jazz) is the only true American art form," he said.

The festival is sponsored by the Coastal Jazz Association, a nonprofit group that produces jazz concerts year round. Each month a concert is offered at Westin Hotel in Savannah, along with about six other annual concerts for the community. Membership is $50 a person or $75 for couples and includes free admission to all concerts.


Savannah Jazz Festival

Coastal Jazz Association

Li'l Ed and the Blues Imperials