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Savannah Jazz Festival set to begin
Beloved event runs Sept. 17-23 at multiple venues
Selwyn Birchwood

Editor's Note: This issue went to press early due to the mandatory evacuation. We urge you to double check all info here to make sure these events are still happening as planned. We will also provide updates at and on social media.

FALL IS JUST ABOUT HERE, and with it, the 36th annual Savannah Jazz Festival.

From September 17 to 23, folks of all ages can enjoy live, world-class music in Forsyth Park, the Westin Savannah Harbor, Trinity United Methodist Church, The Lucas Theatre, Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant, The Mansion on Forsyth, and the DeSoto Hotel.

Sunday, September 17, Westin Savannah Harbor Main Ballroom

3:00 p.m.: See the future of jazz in Savannah Arts Academy’s SkyLite Jazz Band. The band has performed numerous acclaimed shows, including a 10-day tour in China in 2004 and a performance in San Francisco for the National School Board Association in 2007.

3:45 p.m.: Armstrong Jazz Ensemble of Armstrong State University has had the honor of performing with The Count Basie Orchestra, Bob Berg, Marcus Jones, and more. The student-led ensemble has performed a variety of jazz styles in concerts around the Southeast.

4: 15 p.m.: The award-winning Parris Island Marine Corps Band, led by tenor saxophonist Sgt. Jason Knuckles, is a Festival favorite. The band has received the Col. G. Howard Citation for Musical Excellence in Military Concert Bands.

5:00 p.m.: Local jazz heroes light up the stage with Teddy Adams All Stars.

Monday, September 19, Lucas Theatre

7:00 p.m.: Celebrate the legacy of Savannah bassist Ben Tucker with the music of the Ben Tucker Tribute Band.

8:00 p.m.: Learn more about Ben, his life, and his music at the world premiere if In Tune: The Ben Tucker Story.

Tuesday, September 19, Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Club, Ben Tucker Pavilion

7:00 p.m.: 11-piece Latin Band Palmetto Latin Orchestra specializes in “Musica Tropical” with a repertoire that includes Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, Bachata, and Latin Jazz.

Wednesday, September 20, Trinity Methodist Church, Telfair Square

7:00 p.m.: Armstrong alum Eric Jones brings his unrivaled piano skills to the festival. The Savannahian has worked with the likes of Esperanza Spalding, Stewart Copland of The Police, and Keith Miller of the Metropolitan Opera.

Thursday, Sept. 21, Forsyth Park

6:00 p.m.: Enjoy local sounds with Savannah State University Wesleyan Gospel Choir.

7:00 p.m.: Hometown heroes the Eric Culberson Band (Culberson, Johnathan Hill, and Larry Duff) always bring great rock energy to the Jazz Festival.

8:15 p.m.: International Blues Challenge winner Selwyn Birchwood finds influence in the stylings of Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Albert King, and Buddy Guy. Ever since he was 13, the determined Birchwood has been dishing out raw blues for the people.

9:30 p.m.: Victor Wainwright burst onto the scene as a honky-tonk rock ‘n’ roll sensation. The 2017 BMA Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year is a composer, producer, vocalist, and piano player with contagious energy.

11:00 p.m.: Get your Late Night Jam on at Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant.

Friday, September 22, Forsyth Park

6:00 p.m.: Randy Napoleon has performed alongside some of jazz’s biggest names, including Natalie Cole, Bill Charlap, Monty Alexander, and more. Is an assistant professor at Michigan State University, where he teaches jazz guitar. Most recently, Napoleon released the album Soon.

7:00 p.m.: Andy Snitzer and his band arrive with 15 years on the scene. The saxophonist has toured as a soloist and horn section anchor alongside Paul Simon, performed with the “On Stage Together Tour” with Sting, and has worked with the likes of Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Beck, Jay-Z, Panic! at the Disco, Christina Aguilera, and more.

8:15 p.m.: Javon Jackson, a master of the tenor saxophone, came onto the international scene for his work with legendary drummer Art Blakey. Blending tradition with neo-jazz, Jackson has released 14 recordings as a band leader and recorded over 135 albums with the likes of Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, and more.

9:30 p.m.: Carmen Bradford made a name for herself as the last singer William “Count” Basie personally invited to join his Count Basie Orchestra. Read more about Bradford’s career and life in next week’s Connect Savannah.

Andy Snitzer
Andy Snitzer

11:00 p.m.: Late Night Jam will be held at the Mansion on Forsyth Park.

Saturday, Sept. 23, Forsyth Park,

4:30 p.m.: Fort Benning Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Stage Band has inspired civilians and service men and women for over 50 years. Audiences will enjoy New Orleans jazz, American country, rock, R&B, and funk sounds from the band.

6:00 p.m.: Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame Band showcases excellent local players on the Forsyth stage.

7:00 p.m.: The Presidents features Chief Executive Officers of Benedetto Guitars and Jody Jazz Mouthpieces, Paul Benedetto and Jody Espina, in a delightful local showcase. Bassist Mark Peterson, drummer Karl Latham, and percussionist Andres Forero will join in the fun as they play American Songbook standards and more.

8:15 p.m.: See more collegiate talent with University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble 1. Directed by J.B. Scott, the ensemble is the flagship ensemble of University of North Carolina’s Jazz Studies Program. The Ensemble has won numerous awards and been recognized in publications like Jazz Times, Jazz Educators Journal, and Cadence, and has performed at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Suncoast Jazz Festival, and more.

9:30 p.m.: Wycliffe Gordon leads the stellar lineup of the 2017 festival. One of the most well-known jazz trombonists of our time, Gordon has performed with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, and more. With a sound that evokes Duke Ellington’s 1930s tone, the Waynesboro native spent his early career with Wynton Marsalis. In 1995, Gordon arranged and orchestrated the theme song for NPR’s All Things Considered.

11:00 p.m.: The final Late Night Jam is held at DeSoto Hotel.