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Enjoy jazz in the park Oct. 18-21
Emerging artists, jazz legends mingle at Clearwater Jazz Holiday
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Mindi Abair
Esperanza Spalding
Photo courtesy of NEW FRONTIER TOURING
The Avett Brothers
CLEARWATER – Clearwater’s signature music festival, the annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday, runs Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 18-21, at Coachman Park on the waterfront in downtown Clearwater.

Daily general admission tickets are $10 in advance. Four-day tickets also are available. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free but must be accompanied by a paying adult. For more information, visit www.c­learw­aterj­azz.c­om or call Clearwater Jazz Holiday office at 461-5200.

This year’s headliners include Bonnie Raitt, Mindi Abair & Friends featuring Jeff Golub and David Pack, Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society and The Avett Brothers.

Over the course of its history, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday has attracted legendary artists.

In the past, icons such as Tony Bennett, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Mann, Dave Brubeck, Tito Puente, Stephan Grappelli and Stan Getz have played. Innovative jazz stars such as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Al Dimeola, Kevin Mahogany, Hiroshima, Spyro Gyra, Acoustic Alchemy, Herbie Hancock and Jean-Luc Ponty have taken part in the festival. Some of today’s most popular artists have performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, including The Neville Brothers, Branford Marsalis, Kenny G, Buckwheat Zydeco, George Benson, David Sanborn and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

The event has come a long way since its earliest days.

In the beginning, concerts were spread out over 10 days and as many venues. Musicians played on the back of a flatbed truck. From day one, organizers took advantage of Florida’s scenic beauty and gorgeous weather. Some things never change – some things do.

Today, attendees enjoy four consecutive days of performances at one beautiful location: Coachman Park, on the waterfront in downtown Clearwater.

The 2012 lineup is as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 18

Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

• Carol Stein and Friends, 5 to 6 p.m.

• Maia Sharp, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

• Bonnie Raitt, 8:30 to 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 19

Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

• Common Ground reunion, 5 to 6 p.m.

• Down to the Bone, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

• Mindi Abair & Friends featuring Jeff Golub and David Pack, 8:30 to 11 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 20

Gates open at 1:30 p.m.

• Pat Close and The Groove, 2 to 3:15 p.m.

• El Nino Garcia and the Latin Knights, 3:45 to 5 p.m.

• Tia Fuller Quartet, 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.

• Kurt Elling, 7:15 to 8:45 p.m.

• Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society, 9:15 to 10:45 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 21

Gates open at 2 p.m.

• Ruth Eckerd Hall/Clearwater Jazz Holiday Youth Jazz Band, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

• The Cave Dwellers featuring the Reinhardt Brothers, 4 to 5 p.m.

• Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

• The Avett Brothers, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.


Bonnie Raitt hits the stage Thursday, Oct. 18, 8:30 p.m.

Best-selling artist, esteemed guitarist, expressive singer and talented songwriter, Raitt has become a veritable institution in American music.

Raitt came from a musical family. The nine-time Grammy winner is the daughter of Broadway singer John Raitt and pianist/singer Marge Goddard. Her journey into musical creativity was triggered by a Christmas present: At age 8, she received a Stella guitar.

She released her debut album in 1971. The self-titled album was predominantly blues-based, though Raitt had developed a connection to folk music at the time. Though she recorded an additional eight albums through the mid-1980s, it wasn’t until 1989’s “Nick of Time” that she would achieve new levels of both popular and critical acclaim.

According to her artist bio at Monterey International, Raitt won four Grammy Awards in 1990 – three for her “Nick of Time” album and one for her duet with John Lee Hooker on his breakthrough album, “The Healer.” Within weeks, “Nick of Time” shot to No. 1 Her follow-up, “Luck of the Draw,” in 1991 brought even more success, with the hit singles "Something to Talk About" and "I Can't Make You Love Me."

With the release of her 19th album, “Slipstream,” Raitt is starting anew according to Monterey International.

“Slipstream” brought Raitt back to the recording studio for the first time in seven years. Its release launched her own label, Redwing Records. “Slipstream” also delivers some of the most astounding and gratifying music of Raitt’s career.

Saxophonist/vocalist/songwriter Mindi Abair performs Friday, Oct. 19, 8:30 p.m.

According to the artist’s profile provided by Concord Music Group, Abair has been surrounded by talented musicians her entire life.

Her paternal grandmother was an opera singer, and her father was a saxophonist and B3 player in The Entertainers. After living life on the road for many years throughout the early ‘70s, the family finally settled in St. Petersburg. Abair, then 5 years old, had already demonstrated musical aspirations of her own by taking up the piano – but she made the switch to saxophone in the fourth grade.

Abair’s website bio states that she graduated from Berklee College of Music. After graduating, she spent time in Los Angeles playing local clubs to attract attention. It worked: Bobby Lyle hired her off the street for his tour. Soon after, other artists were seeking her talents as a talented sideman.

Abair signed as a solo artist to Verve Records in 2002.

Her most recent release, “In Hi-Fi Stereo,” hit stores in 2010 on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. The album captures the raw and edgy aesthetic of that golden age, when a slab of vinyl could instantaneously put band and listener together in the same room and establish a visceral and enduring connection. Loaded with infectious grooves generated by a high-caliber crew of players, “In Hi-Fi Stereo” rekindles that spark for a new generation of ears.

Esperanza Spalding plays Saturday, Oct. 20, 9:15 p.m.

Spalding – a young bassist/vocalist/composer – earned the 2011 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. It was the first time a jazz musician had won the award, but Spalding is known for making the unprecedented the norm.

Born in Portland, Ore., she grew up inn a single-parent home. According to her artist biography on her website, she was only 4 years old when she watched classical cellist Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” That performance put things into perspective for her.

“That was when I realized that I wanted to do something musical,” Spalding says on her website. “It was definitely the thing that hipped me to the whole idea of music as a creative pursuit.”

Within a year, Spalding had essentially taught herself to play the violin. In fact, she played the violin well enough to earn a spot in The Chamber Music Society of Oregon, a community orchestra. Spalding remained with the group for 10 years – and by age 15, she had been elevated to a concertmaster position.

In 2006, Spalding released her debut album, “Junjo,” on the Ayva Music label.

Spalding’s most recent release is “Radio Music Society.” The album features a cast of jazz legends such as Lovano, Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart; hip-hop giant Q-Tip, Algebra Blessett, Lalah Hathaway, Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke; as well as an array of notable vocalists.

“I’ve had the honor and blessing of working with so many phenomenal jazz musicians over the years,” Spalding says on her website. “As I’ve gotten to know them and their music, I’ve grown to love them as family and colleagues. I wished for an opportunity for us all to interpret songs together, so that they can be heard and received by a larger audience.”

The Avett Brothers conclude the festival with a performance Sunday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.

According to New Frontier Touring, “there is no harmony like brotherly harmony.”

Something “indelible in the weave of voices and play of sensibilities is stamped into the fraternal DNA and also stems from a lifetime of shared experiences.” That element is evident in the songs of Scott and Seth Avett, better known as the Avett Brothers.

“I and Love and You,” the Avett Brothers’ big-label debut, is delivered in a style that defies pigeonholing but might be described as a rootsy amalgam of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and pop – even a jab of punk-style dynamics here and there. The Avett Brothers have built up a sizable following based on their rowdy, infectious stage shows. In concert, the high-flying ensemble tears through tunes with unbridled energy, popping banjo and guitar strings right and left while inciting stomping sing-alongs among audiences that appear to know every word.

Safety measures

A number of safety and security measures have been put in place at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Several items and practices will not be permitted at the event, including pets, except registered, seeing eye dogs; grills, hibachis or open flames of any kind; glass containers or bottles; coolers, food or drink of any kind; unauthorized vendors; tents, canopies or umbrellas; overnight camping; audio and/or recording devices; in-line skating and skateboarding; littering; guns, knives or weapons of any kind; cell phones or pagers during performances; fireworks; and laser pointers.

Concertgoers should attend all infants and small children. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, sunglasses, sunscreen and identification tags for small children.

For more information, visit www.c­learw­aterj­azz.c­om or call Clearwater Jazz Holiday office at 461-5200.
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