Can it really be 25 years since the Jazz Club of Sarasota took shape in the living room of Hal and Evelyn Davis? It can; and the late Davises, who fondly birthed and babied the club because of their devotion to the unique art form of jazz, will receive tribute at this month’s silver anniversary Jazz Festival, which takes place March 20-26.
Former Jazz Club president Jerry Roucher and Van Wezel Hall exec director John Wilkes teamed to produce this year’s festival, which offers a wide variety of musical sounds at several venues. First off is Jazz in the Park, March 20 at Phillippi Estate Park, which welcomes top area musicians, followed by Jazz on the Bayfront March 23 on the grounds of the Van Wezel. Then it’s time for the popular Jazz Caravan by trolley, also March 23, which takes jazz fans to several local clubs presenting different jazz groups.
The "bigger" names come out starting at 7 p.m. March 24 at the Van Wezel, when saxophonist Kenny G (yes, the one with all that great hair) takes to the stage. Longtime Jazz Club friend and frequent producer Dick Hyman hosts the silver anniversary tribute the next night with performers Derek Smith, Bill Charlap and Kenny Drew Jr. in a "Piano Explosion." They’ll be joined by guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (the first performer ever presented by the club) along with musicians Jay Leonhart, Ken Peplowski, Peter Appleyard, Eddie Metz Jr. and Tommy Newsom.
Last night of the festival, March 26, brings the legendary Cleo Laine and husband John Dankworth to the hall, joined by the all-female big band DIVA, directed by Sherrie Maricle. A dessert reception to meet the musicians closes out the night.
For complete schedule info, call 366-1552. For tickets to the Van Wezel events, call 953-3368.