Renee 12/17/09 Print
The Savannah Music Festival. This is world class. Over 100 performances from performers who are the top of the line in their native homelands. We have them here in the Hostess City of the South for 17-days.  Opening night, is the day after St. Patrick's Day so, travelers can party, enjoy the St. Patrick's Day festivities and then cool down with a variety of performances in the city's best live-performance venues.

What's your flavour? Whether Rock, Jazz, Classical, Blues, Bluegrass or Gospel, if you are between the ages of well, at any age, there is something spectacular not to miss at the 2010 Savannah Music Festival.

There is the gift of Wilco. The little rock band that can!  Their popularity has skyrocketed since they performed here five years ago. See them live Thursday, March 25, at Johnny Mercer Theatre. I missed the announcement party last October, but I do have Belleville Outfit on cd and they are great.  Each track is just g-o-o-d listening.  The Outfit will join Mike Marshall's Big Trio opening night, Thursday, March 18 at the Morris Center. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are back. Kristina Train is from Savannah. You may know her as Kristina Beatty. She and Ruthie Foster perform Saturday and Sunday March 20 and 21.  This is all good stuff!

The Swing Central High School Jazz Band Competition welcomes 12-high schools from seven states.  Four are from Florida, two each are traveling from California and Washington state with bands joining us from Alabama, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Music in the competition rounds will cover the music of music masters Bennie Moten, Oliver Nelson and the incomparable Jelly Roll Morton. Feel good,  all American music! I will share some of what I found while researching these artists.

Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morten called himself the 'inventor' or jazz.  He was there from the start at the height of the swing era playing Ragtime and stride! We are lucky Library of Congress archivist Neil Lomax liked to travel and meet people and had a gentile art of persuasion because, there are recordings of Morten's early works and recordings while under contract with the Victor Recording Company as 'Jelly Roll Morten and his Red Hot Peppers.'

Bennie Moten helped to develop the 'rifling' style that defined many of the 1930's Big Bands.  This Boogie Woogie pianist had an eye for talent - he recruited Count Basie.  The Moten Band had two pianists so it's now clear why the Count could 'ping ping'  so profoundly! When Moten died, Basie formed his own band with members from Moten's group.. The tops of the day and they delivered. Basie's smooth, polished style has its roots in the Bennie Moten band.  

Oliver Nelson played with and arranged for the Louis Jordan Big Band.  What is important here is Jordan is said to be the first 'rapper.' Songs like 'Saturday Night Fish Fry' and 'Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens,' are treasurers. He rapped before James Brown. Yes, the  roots of rap music can be found in the music of Louis Jordan dating back to the 1950's.  Nelson died young but left an enourmous legacy from his tenure as house arranger for the Apollo Theatre; he played briefly with the Louis Bellson Big Band and with Quincy Jones. WOW.  For television he composed muisc for 'The Six Million Dollar Man,' 'The Bionic Woman,' 'Longstreet,' 'Columbo,' 'Ironside,' and 'Night Gallery.'  Film scores includes 'Death of A Gunfighter' and 'The Last Tango in Paris.'

Whatever your musical taste, there is a performance for you. Are you going along with someone who has a differing taste in music? Go along for the ride, this promises to be a great evening out! The Savannah Music Festival. Support this local effort.