The Savannah Safe Jazz Festival will arrive on Sept. 23-27, lifting spirits worldwide as it is held online for the first time amidst the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.
Savannah- Safe Jazz Festival of 2020 will not stick to its usual script of drawing in tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world to gather at Forsyth Park. Instead, for its 39th celebration, taking place between Sept. 23-27, audiences from all over the world will be required to view the festival from the comfort of their homes in accordance with the regulations of the CDC and Savannah Safe Pledge event regulations. The Savannah-Safe Jazz Festival’s 16 performances and one documentary will be live-streamed with some broadcasts on WSAV, Dick Broadcasting Radio stations, and the Savannah Jazz Website, YouTube Channel, and Facebook pages.
Though the performances will be streaming live, residents and visitors of Savannah have the opportunity to participate in a raffle competition for a chance to win one of 6 show seatings taking place live at a lovely outdoor covered garden in Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Hopefuls can join the raffle online at savannahjazz.org to win two raffle tickets, and the winners will be randomly selected. In accordance with safety regulations, no more than 50 people, including staff, are allowed in an event venue at once, so each show will be seating between 24-30 winners. All participants will be adhering to strict safety guidelines while enjoying the show.
“The Savannah Jazz organization was determined, one way or the other, to deliver a festival. It is our mission. It is our duty.
It is what we do.” Paula Fogarty, Interim Executive Director of Savannah Safe Jazz Festival of 2020 told WSAV. “Nothing lifts spirits in dark times better than music, especially live music.”
Savannah Jazz’s President and CEO of Benedetto Guitars, Howard Paul says, “This year’s lineup represents highly diverse 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 39 years with the goal to make world-class music accessible to our entire community and this year, we will be free and open to viewers all over the world with our live-streaming platforms.”
Wednesday kicks off the festival with a Movie Night featuring Clint Eastwood’s documentary: Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way.
The festival is distinguished by its many regional A-List musical artists and resources, including an A-list rhythm section which will be supporting some of the featured acts. Starting Sept. 24, the best local and regional performers including members of the Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame will grace the stage over the duration of the festival.
Thursday’s Blues Night begins the series of live performances by introducing local blues legends, Willie Jackson and The Tybee Blues Band, and Eric Culberson with Dolette Mc- Donald who will pay homage to the Blues as one of the parents of Jazz music. As the artists play, they will be in front of a live student audience of no more than 30 viewers while tens or hundreds of thousands view online. Friday night opens with an act by Latin Caravan for the Latin Jazz and Classic Jazz Night.
Spicy Jazz Saturday will feature young rising saxophone star Jazmine Ghent and Buckwheat Zydeco, Jr. and Ils Sont Partis Band from New Orleans. American Pianist Association Award winner, Emmett Cohen Trio will be traveling from New York. Legendary Wycliffe Gordon will stand as the closing act for Saturday night. Saturday’s show will be loaded with remarkable artists who will focus on entertaining the listeners worldwide as they are protected by Savannah Safe Pledge and CDC guidelines. “Music is music, and as long as COVID-19 precautions are taken care of, the music takes care of itself and the folks that hear it. We are jazz musicians, so COVID-19 is yet another opportunity for us to improvise and use our creativity to bring the best to any situation,” Gordon said.
B-3 Sunday honors the truly American genre with several astounding artists beginning with Dave Potter Quartet. Also gracing the stage is Ike Stubblefield who is best known for being a modern master of the Hammond B3 organ. He began playing by ear at the early age of 3 years old. He then started playing in church at 5 and playing along with jazz records at 10 years old.
“Living near Detroit, there were tons of jazz, blues, and r&b night clubs. At the age of 15, I was hangin’ and Jammin with the best of them”, said Stubblefield. “Including Richard Groove Holmes, George Benson, Marcus Bellgraves, BB King…They all came through Detroit”, said Stubblefield.
After a few other talented artists take their places on stage, the show will conclude with Pat Bianchi who was recently voted Best Organist in New York. For the full lineup, visit www.savannahjazz.org.
The Festival is organized by Savannah Jazz with major investments provided by the City of Savannah Department Cultural Resources. Lead sponsors are Savannah Morning News, WSAV, Dick Broadcasting Radio, Miner Family Wines, Ford Area Dealers, and Roger Wood Foods.