2019 marks the 38th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival, featuring 27 free performances highlighting regional, national and international world-class jazz in the Lowcountry. The Festival is organized by the Coastal Jazz Association with major investment provided by the City of Savannah Department of Arts, Culture and Historical Resources; lead sponsors are Savannah Area Ford Dealerships, Miner Family Wines, and Mr. Bob Faircloth. The festival takes place in venues around Savannah culminating with three days in Savannah’s historic Forsyth Park September 22 – 28, 2019.
Coastal Jazz Association President and CEO of Benedetto Guitars, the premier maker of jazz guitars, made in Savannah, Howard Paul says, “This year’s lineup is a highly diverse representation of genres, ages, and genders in keeping with the Festival’s mission to unite people from all walks of life. We have been an entirely free festival for 37 years with the goal to make world-class music accessible to our entire community. Savannah’s long history in jazz music from hosting Duke Ellington to being the home of Johnny Mercer and Ben Tucker puts the Savannah Jazz Festival on the map of being a tradition that should carry on forever.”
This year’s featured venues will include Lucas Theatre, Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, Mansion on Forsyth Park, De Soto Hotel, Rancho Alegre, and Forsyth Park. Shows at Lucas Theatre and Ships of the Sea will be only $10 to cover rising production costs. Added features of the Festival this year include several “Pop Up” style shows on Tuesday and Wednesday at many partner venues, expanding the performances all over the city such as Coaches Corner, Homewood Suites, Good Times Jazz Bar and The Perry Lane Hotel.
Wednesday’s new Latin Dance Party tradition continues with Gino Castillo and the Cuban Cowboys at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Castillo is an Afro Cuban Percussionist and recipient of many top awards. GC & The Cuban Cowboys Big Salsa Band brings dancers and non-dancers to their feet.
Forsyth Park acts include Vanessa Rubin with The Savannah Jazz Orchestra. A renowned jazz vocalist from Cleveland, Ohio, Vanessa was mentored by the great Etta James and Savannah Jazz Hall of Famer, Irene Reid. Another strong female performer, Anat Cohen has been declared Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007. Big Sam’s Funky Nation will energize the crowd in Forsyth Park. A New Orleans treasure, Big Sam’s Funky Nation is a huge crowd pleaser, merging funk and jazz and a healthy dose of call-and-response.
Other Forsyth Park acts include The Huntertones, this young up-andcoming act delivers uplifting horn-driven music that pleases crowds all over the world. Savannah Jazz Festival is pleased to welcome back the Afro Cuban jazz and salsa band, LPT to Savannah Jazz Fest for the second year in a row after their sold-out, high-energy performance at Jazz Fest’s 2018 Latin Dance Party.
The best local and regional performers, including Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame members, Teddy Adams, Howard Paul, Jody Espina, and Quentin Baxter who will make appearances alongside festival acts. Per- formances from regional high schools and universities, a beloved festival day by so many, will take place on Sunday, September 22 at the Lucas Theatre featuring Savannah Arts Academy Sky Lite Band, Savannah Country Day School Jazz Band, Savannah State University Jazz Band, Georgia Southern University Jazz Band, concluding with Teddy Adams Jam Session. A scholarship will be awarded to one or more recipients at this show.
“Extra efforts are being made to reach out to diverse audiences including underserved African-Americans, Hispanics, and Women,” explains Coastal Jazz Association Interim Executive Director, Paula Fogarty. “This year’s lineup is highly diverse. We are seeing solid year-over-year growth for this amazing music festival and anticipate more than 40,000 attendees in 2019. This Festival is about so much more than entertainment; it is about uniting people of all walks of life peacefully through jazz music, improving the quality of life for all who attend and for the city of Savannah. The economic impact is significant as well, bringing in over $1.3 million dollars to our community’s businesses.”