It’s one of the greatest things to originate in America. No, it’s not corndogs, but the swingin’, scattin’ sounds of jazz music.
“Jazz is American music,” said Rick Trolsen of the Rick Trolsen Quintet in an e-mail interview. “It’s part of our culture, and we should be proud of that. I have been around the world and heard others playing it, but it’s never as good as it is here in the States.”
Thanks to the Jazz Society of Pensacola, you can celebrate that great American sound Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3 at the Jazz Festival in Seville Square.
“We’re following our successful formula,” said Kathy Lyon of The Jazz Society of Pensacola about the festival. “We expanded our local and regional artist booth since there is so much talent in this area.”
One addition to this year’s jazz calendar is the Saturday night Jazz Jam at the Hilton Garden Inn. It is a first for the festival. Hardcore and amateur jazz fans alike can enjoy more music as well as food and beverages for $10. The jazz festival itself, as always, is free of charge.
“The festival will always be free as long as we can make that happen by raising money and through the help of our corporate sponsors, donors and volunteers,” Lyon said. “Operas and symphonies can be out of reach, but the Jazz Festival is one of the cultural events in Pensacola that doesn’t cost anything.”
The Jazz Festival has been bringing joy to music lovers of all ages for 28 years. Kids don’t just watch music—they can make their own music with complimentary kazoos and harmonicas at the kid’s jazz jam led by Mike Potters.
“It’s really neat to see the kids’ faces light up when they get to watch the musicians,” Lyon said. “We hope to plant the seed of music.”
Crystal Joy Albert, director of music for the Jazz Society of Pensacola, chooses the talent for the festival. This year has a diverse line-up. Some acts hail from as far away as Los Angeles, such as pianist Ted Howe, and some are merely a day trip away.
JB Scott’s Swingin’ Allstars has been playing music for the past eight years in Jacksonville. This year will be their first at the Pensacola Jazz Festival. The band is excited to play their mix of Chicago Swing and New Orleans-style Dixieland for new ears.
“We are looking forward to entertaining new listeners and established fans that will travel to hear us, hearing other festival artists, and enjoying the Pensacola area,” said vocalist Lisa Kelly in an e-mail interview. “We hope to inspire the audience members to listen to jazz music. We also hope the audience finds that jazz is not outdated music of the past, but a continual tradition, a highly creative, inspiring, entertaining and fun music they can connect with.”
It’s not hard to be inspired and entertained by JB Scott’s Swingin’ Allstars since you never see the same performance twice.
“We may play the same song in the same basic format, but always with new improvisational ideas,” Kelly said. “We love the spontaneity, energy, humor, invigoration, emption, feel, groove and the depth of jazz music.”
When you’re searching for jazz musicians, New Orleans is one of the first places to look, which is where you’ll find the Rick Trolsen Quintet.
Trolsen performs with many groups as well as a solo trombonist and has performed at Pensacola Jazz Festival before with Al Belletto Big Band and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers.
With a large encyclopedia of musical influences such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Tchaikovsky and Frank Zappa, you may never know what you’re in for when you listen to Trolsen play, which is why he loves jazz.
“Jazz is free music,” Trolsen said. “It’s in the moment. Any given tune can go anywhere at any given moment. The same tune you played last night can sound totally different than the way you play it today. It’s exciting and always new.”
Whoever you choose to enjoy at the Jazz Festival, whether it be performers from across the country or from our very own city, you will experience not just music, but a movement.
“Jazz music sprang from America,” Lyon said. “It’s America’s mixture. It doesn’t matter your economic status or racial background. Jazz crosses those boundaries.”
PENSACOLA JAZZ FESTIVAL
WHERE: Historic Seville Square
WHEN: Saturday-Sunday, April 2-3
DETAILS: 433-8382 or jazzpensacola.com