The Jazz Club of Sarasota is gearing up for its 33rd Annual Jazz Festival, which takes place from March 3 through March 10.
President of Jazz Club of Sarasota Dave Walrath has been a member since 1990, just ten years after the group was founded by Hal Davis. Davis was on the business end of The Benny Goodman Orchestra, and started the club to keep busy.
Today, there are more than 600 members. Every year they host a week of musical performances that take place around Sarasota.
“We try to get talent that maybe people haven’t heard of, and we use a lot of local musicians throughout the year,” Walrath says.
For instance, the club brought Diana Krall to Sarasota in her early years before people knew who she was, and now she sells out Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall most years.
A music committee consisting of Jazz Club Members and board members gather recommendations that come from all over. It could be members that saw musicians during their travels, sample CDs sent to them and even YouTube. They try to listen to everything they can to curate the list of performers each year.
“Believe me, there are a lot of them,” Walrath says of the potential candidates.
The committee likes to keep a diverse group ranging from songs out of The Great American Songbook to bebop. He’d recommend a particular concert to someone, but it’s all dependent on personal preferences — but he assures that there is something for everyone.
The festival kicks-off on Sunday with a free concert from 1 to 4 p.m. in Phillipi Estate Park, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail. For those who like Dixie, he recommends Tuesday’s JB Scott’s Swingin’ Allstars. For people that like Big Band music, he recommends Friday’s “Terry Myers 17-piece Big Band, Benny Goodman Tribute.” And Walrath remembers buying his the Four Freshman’s first album when he was 20-years-old, so of course, he’d recommend the Grammy-nominated group’s performance as the festival closer.
All evening concerts, starting at 7:30 p.m., will be held at The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Three concert ticket packages run $75 for members and $90 for guests. Individual tickets are available via theplayers.org or by calling 365-2494.