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Jazz Fest never lost ‘mojo’


In reading Jim Reed’s article “New Jazz City,” I’m wondering how is it that in the last couple of years what passes for the local music media has chosen to question -- among other things -- the line-up of the annual Savannah Jazz Festival?

At last year’s festival during intervals an admittedly favorite topic of mine, the lack of at least somewhat knowledgeable local music writers, was briefly discussed. My take on that subject was/is that if one is a music writer and doesn’t know anything about one of the true faces of the Mount Rushmore of jazz -- legendary pianist/composer Randy Weston (not to mention, Ernie Watts, Kevin Mahogany, and the one & only David Newman) then it’s about time for these writers to do some good ol’ fashioned homework. To do less is in my view, a disservice to the readers who look to the local music writers for various live music info.

Last year marked the 25th Savannah Jazz Festival and as a supporter/listener of jazz music, it was for me the best of the 20 that I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Year after year, the line-up for the jazz festival -- which has featured legends & the best young talent has more than held its own with any jazz festival in the country.

I’ve wondered often about the writers who attend every year the various jazz festivals in Chicago, Detroit and Monterey -- how would they cover the artists that the Coastal Jazz Association’s been bringing to our fair city? Perhaps the way they do when those SAME great artists come and play their respective festivals.

And while the festival hasn’t had big sponsors coming out of the woodworks like other local festivals, the musicians who have played here come because they can just play their music. The Savannah Jazz Festival remains the ONE event in this city that continues to bring together the whole city -- regardless of race, sex, economic backgrounds, etc.

Since Mr. Reed was patting himself on the back for a past article which he believes led to what he terms “upgrades” to this years festival in the form of “smooth jazz” artists, he should know that innovative musicians who pioneered the musical concept long before Madison Avenue put a marketing title on it -- like Herbie Mann & just two years ago the great Roy Ayers -- have played some “rhythm & jazz” for the dancing crowd at previous jazz festivals.

Just as the fine saxophonist Vincent Herring, who was mentioned in Mr.Reed’s article as closing out this year’s festival, this will making his fourth appearance as a CJA festival performer.

I hope the organization continues on doing the right thing -- without the outside negative vibes of a few. Indeed, in a city with the rich musical/cultural history that Savannah has, anything less would be in my opinion a shame.

A heart of art


Thanks for your great column on the Arts and Economic Prosperity survey (“The state of the arts is strong”). Speaking not just as a musician but also as a member of the community, I am thrilled that you will be doing additional reporting on this in future issues.

Thank you for pointing out the fantastic return on government arts spending. Compared to other countries, the U.S. has a poor record on government arts spending, and this is an area that we should promote. My experience has been that relying mostly if not completely on private funding can be a problem.

Frozen not-so-Paradise


As a downtown resident it’s exciting to see that the city’s finally taking a positive position on approving alcohol licenses. I believe before any approvals are given there should be an investigation conducted. All businesses and residents that would be affected by the bar should have their voice heard.

If the owner of the bar is a previous owner of another bar, then the history of that bar should be part of the investigation. If the owner has had problems in other establishments then there’s a great possibility that there will be similar problems at the new establishment.

It’s amazing someone would apply for a license for liquor sales on a Sunday when they are not serving food and they know that’s against the law!

Quality of Life issues should be the number one concern. Quality of Life issues not only affect residents, but also the thriving businesses and tourist of our great city.

I would like to point out issues I have with a couple of statements that were in the article in the daily newspaper. A statement was made about a hearing being held concerning the problems with the Broughton street bar 10 years ago and there haven’t been any problems since. This statement is far from the truth.

As a resident of Broughton Street since 2002 I can say there have been many meetings with the police department, SDRA, DNA and City officials. The issues addressed were noise, crime, traffic, litter and loitering.

A statement was made that neighboring businesses haven’t mentioned any problems. Many of the businesses just gave up after years of complaints that fell on deaf ears.