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The Savannah Jazz Orchestra

Well, it’s that time of year again – time for the Savannah Jazz Festival.

While it’s true that our esteemed annual happening doesn’t approach the level of our neighbor Jacksonville’s similarly-named event, we do pretty well for ourselves, considering the relative size of our community and the level of funding required to mount such a showcase.

Since the vast majority of this year’s concerts take place from Thursday the 23rd onward, we’ll cover them in more depth next week. However, there a few noteworthy gigs that serve as an appetizer of sorts to the musical main course.

One of the most eagerly anticipated concerts must surely be The Tybee Big Band Boogie, featuring our own Savannah Jazz Orchestra and vocalist Gina René.

Led by Teddy Adams and Randall Reese, this 16-piece group specializes in the complex, uplifting swing and jazz of the 1920s through the 1940s.

This event provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the music of the past, and to pay tribute to the original Tybrisa Pavillion, which burned down in 1967. Before that tragic loss, it was a haven for most of the major touring big bands of that time – including Cab Calloway’s and Jimmy Dorsey’s – and stars such as those regularly packed the venue with locals dressed to the nines, dancing the Fox Trot and the Boogie Woogie.

This wonderful event serves as a fundraiser for both The Coastal Jazz Association and The Friends of The Tybee Theater. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served on linen-covered tables, and the optional black tie dress makes for an elegant evening. Tickets are $40 each. For more info, call 786-0996 or 786-8510. Fri., 8 pm, Tybee Island Pier Pavillion.


I had to miss these guys last time they were in town, and was not surprised to find that those who did make the show called it an absolutely amazing gig.

Based on this New York City group’s studio albums and circulating live recordings, that seems a given.

In fact, critics from all corners are falling over themselves to heap praise on this mostly-instrumental power trio (utilizing dual-necked electric bass, Rhodes piano, organ, drums, and electric guitar).

“Darediablo is the kind of band that hits so hard you don't even realize you haven't heard any lyrics until the third song... It's mesmerizing. Like a time warp to a front-row viewing of The Who,” says The Portland Phoenix.

“More power and finesse than most bands twice their size and wattage,” gushes The Village Voice.

“Think Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd with occasional whiffs of Deep Purple,” offers Texas’ Austin Chronicle.

“This band combines the better parts of Sonic Youth, Foo Fighters, Black Sabbath, and some Rage Against the Machine,” applauds

And I, in a blatant bid to see my Connect Savannah byline featured on their website, offer up this fussed-over quip: “Any self-described ‘rock fan’ should pledge instant allegiance to Darediablo – if only for the fact that they seem completely unashamed to sound like The James Gang or “Frankenstein”-era Edgar Winter Band doing Tae Bo with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Pretty smooth, eh?

Massive-sounding drums coupled with flights of Rick Wakeman-esque keyboard fantasy, and punishing truckloads of lathe-of-heaven guitar chords give these guys the ballsy cinematic scope of Italian masters Goblin (of Dawn of The Dead and Suspiria soundtrack fame) – and that’s awfully high praise from me.

Also appearing are two acts from the lover-friendly state of Virginia.

The first, Black Van, is said to play “heavy, dirty rock music,” while the second, Nekrist, offers retro-sounding stoner rock, a la Monster Magnet.

But screw that. Go for Darediablo, and buy their albums at instead of trolling for MP3’s. They’re worth full price and full clarity. Tues., The Jinx.

The Frank Gordon Quartet

Timed nicely to coincide with the start of the Jazz festival, Suzabelle’s restaurant (which is known for its piano bar) is hosting a number of small jazz combos, and Frank Gordon’s latest project should likely be one to catch.

While he’s called Savannah home for a little over 5 years, this longtime horn player (who also teaches jazz at Armstrong Atlantic State University) cut his teeth in the New York City music scene, playing and recording with heavyweights such as Max Roach, Art Blakey, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, and The Duke Ellington Band.

He also accompanied the great Lena Horne on Broadway.

These days, when he’s not giving a recital at his workplace, or leading his own group, he’s part of the horn section in the local R & B show band The Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love.

Recently, he’s fronted a group that included the respected local trap drummer Billy Hoffman, and while his quartet’s current lineup is unknown at press time, it will likely feature some of the area’s best players. Tues., 8 pm, Suzabelle’s.