Hostess city sizzle: The Savannah Jazz Festival
19 Sep 2012
Bebop buffs rejoice: It’s time for another installment of the Savannah Jazz Festival, a week’s worth of free performances by top regional, national, and international musicians. This year’s festival, set for Sept. 23-30, features such new twists as teenage guitar sensation Andreas Varady (performing Sept. 29) and a chance to see how many musicians handle a golf club as well as they handle their instruments.
Coastal Jazz Association, the festival organizer, is planning its inaugural golf tournament on Sept. 24, at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort. Proceeds benefit the association’s nonprofit activities, including the jazz festival and the Sunday afternoon concerts held monthly throughout the year at the Westin.
“No one who’s ever seen me play golf will accuse me of being a golfer,” joked guitarist Howard Paul, who will nonetheless take to the links with bassist Ben Tucker, the fellow Jazz Association member who proposed the tournament.
“It’s a new wrinkle,” said Tucker, who plays golf daily and shoots scores averaging 79 to 81. He and Paul, expecting to be joined by others, will also perform music during the tournament lunch break, along with taking to the stage later that week at Forsyth Park, which is the main festival venue from Sept. 27-30. The park’s huge lawn traditionally fills with thousands of spectators toting lawn chairs and picnic coolers on those evenings.
“For much of Savannah, it’s as much a social event as a musical event,” Paul said.
At 14, the Slovakian-born Varady performed this summer at the fabled Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, but he has yet to play many gigs in the States.
“He’s unbelievable — he’s considered to be an international star,” said Paul, who also works as CEO of Benedetto, the Savannah-based guitar maker that custom-built an instrument recently for the young prodigy.
Varady is set to bring his quartet to the Forsyth Park stage at 7 p.m. Sept. 29. (For a sneak peek at his fleet-fingered prowess, check out his You Tube performances.)
The festival bill features plenty of other name-brand artists as well, including Hilton Head’s own Bob Masteller and The Jazz Corner All-Stars on Sept. 26.
The jazz festival closes with a Children’s Jazz Festival, featuring the Savannah Arts Academy Skylite Orchestra at 4 p.m. Sept. 30.
For complete festival schedule and more info, go to savannahjazzfestival.org.
The golf tournament website is www.cjagolftournament.com.