Thursday, March 22, 2012

Savannah vamps again

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Ruthie Foster will perform at this weeks Savannah Music Festival in Georgia
  • Ruthie Foster will perform at this week's Savannah Music Festival in Georgia
Jazz and classical are the staples of the Savannah Music Festival, beginning its 10th season today and running daily through April 7. But there are plenty of other flavors mixed into the rich musical gumbo. Gospel, zydeco, bluegrass, soul, folk, world, blues, flamenco, Cajun, and salsa will also be in the spotlight as SMF 2012 vamps its way through music-lovers’ follicles with a 72-event schedule.

Specials include the Sweet Singing Harmony Harmoneers (March 22), Béla Fleck & the Original Flecktones (March 22), IIIrd Time Out (March 22-23), the Lost Bayou Ramblers (March 23), Del McCoury Band (March 23), the McIntosh County Shouters (March 24), Ruthie Foster/The Campbell Brothers (March 24-25), Nathan & the Zydeco ChaChas (March 30), The Jimmy Bosch Salsa Orchestra (March 31), Mike Marshall & Edgar Meyer (April 1), Chris Thile (April 3), Abigail Washburn, Tony Trischka & Bruce Molsky (April 5-6), Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion (April 5), Lucky Peterson Band/Joe Krown Trio (April 6-7), and Paco de Lucia (April 7).

Among the classical artists, the big name visitors include the Takacs Quartet (March 22-23), Menachem Pressler (March 23-24), Kristian Bezuidenhout (March 30-April 2), Milo Haradagli (March 30), the Emerson String Quartet (April 2), and the Atlanta Symphony with guest soloist Yefim Bronfman (April 7). The roster of SMF virtuosos who perform almost daily, in solo and chamber music settings, is also fairly breathtaking, spearheaded by DGG recording artist Daniel Hope on violin, the Festival’s associate artistic director. Pianist Sebastian Knauer is the most prominent of the other regulars, but returning classical buffs will also be drawn by Lorenza Borrani, Philip Dukes, David Finckel, and Wu Han.

Pianist Marcus Roberts is the jazz artist with the associate artistic director title at SMF, but in recent years, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon has done at least as much of the heavy lifting onstage. This year, Gordon is leading a “Hello, Pops” tribute to Louis Armstrong (March 27-28). Who’s likely to join the celebration? Terell Stafford, Jeff Clayton, Marcus Printup, Dave Stryker, Jason Marsalis, and Kevin Bales are all listed among the clinicians who mentor the gathering of high school jazz bands that perform free concerts (March 29-30) every year. These open-air concerts culminate in the Swing Central Jazz Finale at the Lucas Theatre (March 30) where the three top bands compete for top honors. Then after the winner is crowned, the pros take over the second half of the evening and show us all how it’s done.

Of course, there are some special jazz concerts as well. These include Cedar Walton (March 26), Kenny Barron (March 27), John Faddis Quartet/Brian Blade Fellowship Band (March 28), and the Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau Duo (April 6). Highlighting the jazz lineup is an intriguing concept concert, “Cole in the Afternoon” (March 31), celebrating the music of Nat King Cole and Cole Porter. Nat’s brother, leading the Freddy Cole Quartet, will share the stage in this hybrid tribute with the Marcus Roberts Trio.

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