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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jazz Times Two

,        My mother-in-law, who is a jazz afficionado, tells me that jazz used to be a main musical genre here in Jacksonville.  During the 1950's, every day of the week, the downtown hotels had live jazz groups playing at happy hour, and they were well attended.  Somewhere in there, rock and roll, disco and other musical forms replaced jazz.  The hotels were torn down to make way for the typical Florida style motels.  But suddenly, jazz seems to be making a come back.  Maybe it is not so sudden.  Jazz has always had its fans.
        Almost every weekend there is jazz somewhere in Jacksonville.  In the past two weeks, I attended two excellent but different performances.  The first one was at the Brasserie, a beaches restaurant and bar.  Pierre and Company was actually Pierre and one singer.  Pierre played the saxophone and Akia, his partner sang.  They were what I call "soft jazz," singing and playing such old standards as "Unforgettable," "Summertime," and "Georgia."  Their style was agreeable for the casual, low-key venue where they performed.
They did use recorded music as background.  I would have preferred just their music without the background.
                                             Akia and Pierre at the Brasserie

     The second group was completely opposite in style from Pierre and Company.  SFJAZZ Collective performed at the University of North Florida Fine Arts Center, March 20. They are a group of eight men all playing different instruments:  trumpet, trombone, piano, alto saxophone, tenor sax, drums, bass, and vibraphone.  Sunday night, the group played a tribute to Stevie Wonder.  Different members arranged jazz composition based on Stevie Wonder's songs:  "Blame it on the Sun," "Sir Duke," "Do I Do," and others.  In addition, each artist had written original jazz compostions, and the group played some of them.
      They played for two hours without an intermission and the packed house was enthusiastic and responsive throughout the afternoon.  SFJAZZ is comprised of composers, bandleaders, and teachers.
Individually, they travel the world and they are from many places in the world:  Venezuela, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Israel, Houston, New York and Berkeley.  The music is as diverse as the group.  It was a great show!
                                    Bad photo taken from mid-theater with an iphone


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