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The Marcus Roberts Trio w/Wycliffe Gordon

Two familiar faces at The Savannah Music Fest for years now, Roberts is an internationally-celebrated jazz pianist (and Jacksonville, Fl. native) who has been criticized by some for fetishizing the past exploits of his chosen genre. Still, it’s hard for anyone to claim this protegé –and former sideman– of horn master Wynton Marsalis (another amazingly gifted player who himself gets pegged as a heartless anachronist) is anything less than an electrifying artist with an uncanny command of the keyboard. Even more impressive is the fact that he has been without sight since birth.

Trombonist Gordon, a longtime associate of Roberts who first came to national attention during his tenure alongside Wynton and Marcus in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, runs his own distinguished music school in Augusta, and composed the current theme song for NPR, as well as as a new score for Paul Robeson’s 1925 silent film Body and Soul. The two men are blessed with the sort of musical empathy that only years of collaboration –and highly trained ears– can bring. Along with a combo that includes drummer Jason Marsalis, they’ll offer up original arrangements of material by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, George Gershwin and Cole Porter. Anytime these talents grace the stages of this festival, wonderful and bewitching sounds result. Call 525-5050 or go to for tickets. Wed., 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm, Orleans Hall.

Rebirth Brass Band

Generally considered one of the top 2 groups playing vintage New Orleans-style marching music (the other being the iconic Dirty Dozen Brass Band), this killer outfit brings a heavy dose of contemporary funk to what can –in lesser hands– be a rather stodgy exercise in nostalgia. They play uptempo boogies, spirituals, rags and grooves, and have shared bills with everyone from The Grateful Dead to The Meters. Prepare yourself for a rousing set of infectious, feel-good, toe-tapping barnstormers, the likes of which are rarely –if ever– heard ‘round these parts. Call 525-5050 or go to for tickets. Fri., 5:30 pm, 8 pm & 10 pm, Orleans Hall.

The Darien Seafood Fest w/Delbert McClinton, The Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love

Savannah’s own large-scale R & B show band, The Sapphire Bullets appear on the same bill (a day before) as Texas music legend McClinton at this annual outdoor event that’s geared toward the entire family. The “Lone Star Troubadour,” known to many as the singer behind the ‘70s crossover hit “Givin’ It Up For Your Love,” McClinton is beloved among musicians for his impeccable vocal chops and mouth harp work, as well as for his knack for penning tunes that defy easy categorization. Is he a country artist, a bluesman, a honky-tonk hero, or a roadhouse rocker? All of the above, and a multiple Grammy-winner to boot. In his youth he backed up Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed and B.B. King, and supposedly taught a young John Lennon how to play harmonica.

The Sapphire Bullets boast a full horn section (and some of the area’s best players). They flat-out tear up danceable soul hits from the past 50 years, as well as obscure roots-rock tunes. Fri., 7 pm (Sapphire Bullets) + Sat., 9 pm (Delbert McClinton), The Riverfront in Darien, Ga.

Sam Bush, Mike Marshall & Edgar Meyer w/Daniel Hope

Here’s another one of those great, one-off “summit meetings” the Savannah Music Fest is becoming more and more known for. Along with stints in Strength In Numbers and Emmylou Harris’ Nash Ramblers, mandolinist and fiddler Bush founded and led legendary progressive bluegrass act New Grass Revival, which updated the traditional genre with elements of rock, jazz and reggae. Mando man Marshall is a titan of the stringed instrument world who’s worked with David Grisman and Mark O’Connor, among others, and is known for an abiding interest in –and knack for– Brazilian folk. Classical bassist Meyer has been hailed by the New Yorker as “the most remarkable virtuoso in the... history of his instrument.” This trio was nominated for a Best Classical Crossover Grammy for their 1999 CD Short Trip Home. For this event, they’ll be joined by Grammy-nominated British violinist (and Festival Associate Artistic Director) Hope, who’s world famous for both his instrumental prowess and his willingness to venture outside the narrow confines of the classical idiom. This should be a mesmerizing evening of daring acoustic composition. Call 525-5050 or go to for tickets. Fri., 7:30 pm, Lucas Theatre.