Come April 19, the town of Seaside will be hopping to the sounds of an array of the world's leading jazz musicians during the first annual Florida Jazz Festival to Benefit the Seaside Institute. The three-day festivities start on Friday night, April 19, with an intimate jazz dinner in the waterfront community of WaterColor that will feature legendary modern jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., and the Ellis Marsalis Trio.
The weekend promises a wide range of diverse talent. The Grammy nominated Caribbean Jazz Project is scheduled to kickoff the Saturday event in the Lyceum in downtown Seaside. Saturday's other scheduled artist include Tony Trischka Band, a jazz band with a blue-grass influence; Astral Project, a saxophone-led progressive jazz quartet; jazz fusion guitarist Eric Essix; Los Hombres Calientes, a Grammy nominated trumpet and vocal driven Latin jazz band, and the Ellis Marsalis Quintet. The day's festivities will culminate with a performance by Five-time Grammy award winning vocalist Al Jarreau.
Sunday's festivities include with the Dirty Dozen Band, a Grammy nominated 12-piece New Orleans-style brass band. Also scheduled are the Geoff Green Trio from New Orleans; the Bill Anschell Trio; the Dave Holland Quintet; the Ken Watters Group; and Grammy winner Nicholas Payton Quintet. Grammy award wining vocalist Diana Reeves will conclude the weekend event.
"There's a tradition of premiere jazz festivals in legendary locations," says Daniel Klibanoff, a driving force behind the creation of the festival. "We have a fabulous setting, a deserving benefactor, and a line-up of talented musicians. Our goal is to establish a presence in the Jazz community."
But successful jazz events - like successful musical careers - don't just happen without a commitment and lots of hard work. The seeds of this event were laid last May when Klibanoff started talking with trumpeter Ken Watters and writer Homer Hickam about a jazz event in Seaside. They soon came up with a "wish list" of jazz musicians to make it a premiere event. "The tricky part was developing a line-up we all would be proud of," says Daniel. "And a budget we could live with."
The date is set for the third weekend in April. "The weather is perfect that time of the year and there's a natural audience of tourist vacationing along the coast within a 50-mile radius," says Klibanoff.
In addition to the obvious aim of a weekend of great music and fun, the Florida Jazz Festival was created as a way to round out the mission of the Seaside Institute. "Part of our goal for the festival is to raise money to start an arts outreach program for Walton County and the surrounding area and to identify and provide assistance to emerging artists from disadvantaged families," says Klibanoff. "We hope to create a mentoring program that pairs up young talent with established artists involved with The Seaside Institute's Escape to Create program."
The two-day Jazz event will be held in the Seaside Lyceum, a generous outdoor space centrally located with easy access to the diverse restaurants and shops of the waterfront town of Seaside. To learn more about corporate sponsorship for the Florida Jazz Festival, contact Craige Hoover or Jennifer Steele at 850 231-3033.
For information about the festival events, contact the Seaside Institute at 850-231-2421. Tickets to the Friday night Jazz Dinner are $99. Festival tickets are $59 per day or $99 for the two-day event.