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Clearwater Jazz holiday takes over Coachman Park
Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald among top acts headlining Clearwaters annual world-class music festival
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Kenny Loggins
CLEARWATER – On the breeze is the unmistakable hint of autumn in Florida.

Nature may not treat the Tampa Bay area to a colorful display of changing leaves experienced by our northern neighbors, but fall manages to reveal itself in other ways – from the return of our treasured seasonal residents to pleasantly cooler temperatures.

Another sure sign of fall is Clearwater’s signature music festival.

Presented by the HCI Group, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday – now in its 38th year – will get underway Thursday, Oct. 19, at Coachman Park on the waterfront in downtown Clearwater.

The outdoor festival will continue daily through Sunday, Oct. 22. The lineup will include world-class performers such as Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, The Avett Brothers, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, The Temptations and The Four Tops.

This will mark the 12th year that the Clearwater Jazz Holiday partnered with Ruth Eckerd Hall to bring an amazing and diverse lineup of headline acts to Clearwater.

Daily general admission tickets start at $16 in advance. Four-day and weekend tickets also are available. Children age 12 and younger will be admitted free but must be accompanied by a paying adult. For information, visit www.c­learw­aterj­azz.c­om or call Clearwater Jazz Holiday office at 727-461-5200.

Presented in the 20-acre landscaped Coachman Park overlooking scenic Clearwater Harbor and the Memorial Causeway Bridge, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday is four days and nights of some of the best live performances in the world presented to the public. The visitor experience is complemented by the Clearwater area’s mild fall weather, miles of world-famous Gulf beaches, brilliant sunsets, nearby attractions, accommodations and dining to suit every taste and budget.

One of the longest-running and known events in the country, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday has presented in concert multiple luminaries of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Mann, Dave Brubeck, Tito Puente, Stephan Grappelli, Stan Getz, the Count Basie Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, Bonnie Raitt, Trombone Shorty and many more. Over the years, the festival has embraced a diverse line-up covering a wide array of musical styles including straight ahead and smooth jazz, swing, blues, jamband, rock, folk, Americana, funk and Zydeco.

The mission of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation is to be the leading proponent of jazz entertainment and education in Florida through the annual presentation of a world-class, live music festival. The Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation is a 501c3 organization that has been center-stage for numerous scholarship and educational activities to benefit the music students of our community-from the blues-loving beginners to piano-playing protégés, and everyone in between.

The magic of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday emanates from its long-time collaboration with the city of Clearwater, Ruth Eckerd Hall, and hundreds of volunteers that orchestrate every chord of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

This year’s four-day festival will feature performances by some of the hottest names in the genre as well as emerging talent. The 2017 lineup is as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 19

Gates open at 3:30 p.m.

• Erica DiCeglie – 4 to 5 p.m.

• The James Hunter Six – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

• The Four Tops – 7 to 8:15 p.m.

• The Temptations – 8:45 to 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 20

Gates open at 4 p.m.

• Helios Jazz Orchestra – 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.

• Jon Cleary – 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.

• Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – 7:15 to 8:30 p.m.

• Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox – 9 to 11 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 21

Gates open at 1 p.m.

• The Players School of Music featuring Peter Mongaya & Friends – 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

• La Lucha featuring Jeff Rupert and Marty Morell – 3 to 4 p.m.

• Alex Harris – 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

• Celebrating the Music of Weather Report – 6 to 7:15 p.m.

• Michael McDonald – 7:45 to 9 p.m.

• Kenny Loggins – 9:30 to 10:45 p.m.

• Fireworks presented by HCA West Florida Pinellas County Hospitals – 10:45 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 22

Gates open at 1:30 p.m.

• REH/CJH Youth Jazz Band – 2 to 3 p.m.

• Mama’s Batch – 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Honey Island Swamp Band – 5 to 6 p.m.

• Anderson East – 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

• The Avett Brothers – 8 to 10 p.m.

A number of safety and security measures have been put in place at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday for the enjoyment, safety and comfort of all festival attendees, artists and staff. Several items and practices will not be permitted at the event, including pets, except service animals; 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; inline skating and skateboarding; littering; firearms, unless otherwise permitted by Florida Statute, Chapter 790; 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.

Food vendors scheduled to participate in this year’s festival include Rich N Rise Thai, Colonel’s Kettle Korn, St. Pete Concessions, Mr. Bill’s Fine Foods, C&S Concessions, Papa John’s Pizza, Pipo’s Jerk Hut, Crabby’s Dockside & Salty’s Island, Shadrack’s Pizza, Gourmet Coffee & Crepes Creations, Shanghai Fresh, Bite Me Corndog, Chef on the Bay, Seafood Market, Softee King, Dulcet, Mr. & Mrs. Clyde’s Tacos & Dillas.

For more information, visit www.c­learw­aterj­azz.c­om or call Clearwater Jazz Holiday office at 727-461-5200.

This year’s headliners

The Four Tops, a vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan, started out in the 1950s performing as the Four Aims.

The Four Tops were one of several groups that helped establish the Motown Sound of the 1960s, charting hits such as “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”

When Motown left Detroit in the early 1970s, The Four Tops switched to a different label and continued to chart singles such as “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got),” the Top 10 “Keeper Of The Castle” and the R&B Top 10’s “Are You Man Enough” as well as “Sweet Understanding Love,” “One Chain Don’t Make No Prison” “Midnight Flower” and the disco perennial “Catfish.”

In 1990, with 24 Top 40 pop hits to their credit, The Four Tops were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, according to the group’s Facebook page. Though they would no longer have hits on record, the group continued to be a hit in concert, touring incessantly, a towering testament to the enduring legacy of the Motown Sound they helped shape and define.

According to Billboard magazine, The Temptations are the top all-time R&B artists, thanks to the soul group’s success since the 1960s. Over the course of decades, the ensemble tallied a record 16 No. 1s on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart beginning in 1965. They charted 14 leaders on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (which dates to 1958), including its longest-leading hit single, the eight-week No. 1 “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” in 1966. The act scored 43 top 10s, including in each decade from the ’60s through the ’90s.

Their hits include songs such as “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Cloud Nine,” “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.”

Founded in 1993, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – named after an autograph by blues legend Albert Collins – has performed in concert venues all over the world. With records sales in the millions, their music has appeared in hundreds of movies and television shows.

Since its formation in Ventura, California, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has toured nonstop, performing on average more than 150 shows a year. Early on in their career and at a time when grunge was a dominant force in the music industry, members of the band managed to remind the world that it was still cool to swing. The band was co-founded by singer Scotty Morris and drummer Kurt Sodergren. They led a swing revival in the ’90s by blending a vibrant fusion of the classic American jazz sound, swing and Dixieland with the energy and spirit of contemporary culture.

Postmodern Jukebox, an ongoing musical project spearheaded by pianist and arranger Scott Bradlee, takes contemporary pop and rock tunes and fashions new arrangements for them that cast them in an unpredictable variety of musical styles from the past.

Bradlee hails from Long Island but moved to New York City after studying jazz at the University of Hartford. There, he started performing at restaurants and nightclubs. In these intimate venues, he experimented with deconstructing pop tunes from the 1980s and re-imagining them with ragtime and jazz arrangements.

He began recording these experiments, releasing digital albums of his variations on well-known melodies.

In 2012, Bradlee released “A Motown Tribute to Nickelback.” Around that time, he expanded his growing popularity via a new platform: YouTube.

Posting weekly videos featuring a rotating cast of musicians and vocalists, Bradlee started seeing some of his creations – from the ‘50s-style doo wop version of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” to a cover of Lorde’s “Royals” sung by Puddles Pity Party – go viral, racking up millions of views.

With his husky baritone and distinctive keyboard style, Michael McDonald

has been entertaining audiences with his own brand of “blue-eyed soul” for more than three decades. The five-time Grammy Award winner first attained popularity as the Doobie Brothers’ lead singer, writing and singing such hits as “Takin’ It To The Streets,” “Real Love” and the No.1, “What A Fool Believes.”

Going solo in 1982, McDonald continued to top the charts with “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” “Sweet Freedom” and “On My Own.”

Kenny Loggins, with 12 platinum albums to his credit, has recorded a number of smash-hit songs for movie soundtracks including “I’m Alright” (“Caddyshack”), “Footloose” (“Footloose”), and “Danger Zone” (“Top Gun”). He enjoyed early success as part of the classic duo Loggins and Messina, selling more than 16 million records that featured hits such as “Danny’s Song,” “House at Pooh Corner” and “Your Momma Don’t Dance.”

Shortly after, Loggins moved on to enjoy a highly successful solo career which produced songs including “Whenever I Call You Friend,” “This Is It” and the 1979 Grammy-winning Song of The Year “What a Fool Believes,” co-written with Michael McDonald.

Though he’s got 12 platinum albums, a pair of Grammys, and hits on almost all the Billboard charts under his belt, Loggins is far from done. Having just released his latest children’s project, the book “Footloose” (Moondance Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group), inspired by his 1985 Oscar nominated and Grammy Award-winning Song of the Year, he’s still looking forward to what’s next.

“I feel very lucky that this is the way I make my living, and not a lot of people can say that,” Loggins said in a press release. “I’ve been lucky that I love what I do and I get to keep doing it.”

In 2001, banjoist Scott Avett and guitarist Seth Avett formed The Avett Brothers with standup bass player Bob Crawford. During 2009, The Avett Brothers made mainstream waves with their lauded major label debut, “I and Love and You.” It landed at No. 16 on the Billboard Top 200 and garnered unanimous critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, Paste, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Time, who even dubbed it one of the Top 10 albums of the year.

In 2012, “The Carpenter” hit No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200. Their eighth studio album, “Magpie and the Dandelion,” went on to debut at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200.

“True Sadness,” the Avett Brothers’ newest album, achieved the group’s highest career debut to date and has dominated multiple charts. The Rick Rubin produced album arrived at No. 1 on the Billboard Albums Chart, No. 1 Digital Albums Chart, No. 1 Rock Albums Chart, and No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200. In addition, “True Sadness” continues to garner overwhelming critical acclaim with many considering it their finest release yet.

The Avett Brothers’ hit single “Aint No Man” held the No. 1 slot at AAA radio on the BDS Monitored Chart for multiple weeks. The song shaped up to be one of their biggest hits yet, being streamed 2.7 million times and counting.

More music on tap

The James Hunter Six will take the stage Thursday, Oct. 19, 5:30 6:30 p.m.

According to Hunter’s website, it’s been a decade since the Englishman burst onto the scene with his U.S. debut “People Gonna Talk” on Go/Rounder Records.

The album topped the Billboard Blues chart and earned a Grammy nomination. Since then, Hunter has toured extensively around the world on the club, theatre, and festival circuits. Follow-up albums “The Hard Way” and “Minute by Minute” helped to solidify his reputation as a soul powerhouse.

“Hold On!” is Hunter’s fourth album – and his debut on Daptone Records. In recording the album, Hunter worked with famed producer Gabriel Roth.

“The great thing about working with Gabe is that he can get our tunes on tape exactly the way I heard them in my head when I was writing them,” Hunter says on his website. “It’s a rare thing when a producer knows what you’re going for before you’ve told him. It’s good to be associated with a record company that ‘gets’ us.”

La Lucha featuring Jeff Rupert and Marty Morell will perform Saturday, Oct. 21, 3 to 4 p.m.

La Lucha is a Tampa Bay based trio that consists of three best friends from three different parts of the world: Colombia, Mexico and United States.

Their music ventures boldly into a wide variety of musical styles, offering an appealing and fun mix of genres under the jazz umbrella. The combination of their musical versatility and varied musical influences makes for compelling virtuosic performances. Through an engaging stage presence and high level of interaction, La Lucha brings the audience into their world.

Each member of the trio has extensive national and international performance experience, including a tour of Italy and France with performances at the Umbria Jazz Festival and Jazz a Juan in Juan Les Pins.

La Lucha was awarded Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay Jazz Ensemble three consecutive years, in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The band also earned the Think Small to Think Big Grant from Creative Pinellas.

“A Cup of Fuzzy Water,” the band’s debut album, was released in 2009 and their second self-titled album was released in June 2012. Their third album, “Standards, Not-Standards,” featuring vocalist Jun, was released in January 2015 on Blue Line Music.

Members of La Lucha include John O’Leary, piano; Alejandro Arenas, bass; and Mark Feinman, drums.

Alex Harris will play Saturday, Oct. 21, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Harris is a soul and R&B vocalist, actor and speaker.

No stranger to the entertainment scene, Harris launched career in entertainment at age 7, traveling throughout the southeast region with his siblings.

Harris has a growing following worldwide because of his electrifying and soulful performances which he delivers with a style that is captivating. His polished lyrical styling and dynamic energy is a breath of fresh air with an earthy twist that connects with audiences everywhere he performs.

Harris has not only headlined his own shows, but has graced stages with entertainers and actors such as Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Rush, Eric Benet, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, Lamman Rucker and many others.

Jason Miles will present “Celebrating the Music of Weather Report” Saturday, Oct. 21, 6 to 7:15 p.m.

The performance will feature Jeff Coffin and Carter Beauford of the Dave Matthews Band, Philip Dizack, Shaun Martin, Mino Cinelu, Gerald Veasley and Karen Briggs.

As a composer, keyboardist, producer and arranger, Grammy winner Miles has brought to every new project he’s undertaken a boundless sense of curiosity and adventure. From extensive collaborations with such giants as Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn and Marcus Miller, to his own critically acclaimed recordings including “To Grover With Love: Live in Japan” (2016), “Kind of New” (2015, with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen), “Global Noize” (2008), “What’s Going On? Songs of Marvin Gaye” (2006) and “Miles to Miles” (2005), New York native Miles has always been a restless seeker. He has shifted seamlessly between a multitude of genres, from R&B to pop to Brazilian music and even children’s music and country – and, of course, several different strains of jazz, from Latin to fusion.

With “Blue Is Paris,” his newest release, Miles is taking his craftsmanship someplace “kind of new” altogether. Each of the album’s nine tracks is a personalized interpretation of the title track, a new piece composed by Miles in response to recent world events.

“I was doing a press tour of various cities in Europe in 2015 to promote my ‘Kind of New’ album and one of my stops was Paris, right after the terrorist attacks,” Miles said in a press release. “Then, when I was on the plane home, looking at the great photos of Paris, it just came in my head: ‘Blue Is Paris.’ It was just one of those things!”

The idea took shape when Miles remembered a late-1950s album his father had once owned: a collection titled “Lullaby of Birdland,” with the title track performed 12 different ways by 12 arrangers.

For Jason Miles, the insatiable hunger to embrace and appreciate all genres of music goes back to childhood. He grew up immersed in the pop hits of the day. By the time he reached his teens, he started to pay attention to more serious music: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery.

“I was always musically curious and wasn’t scared to buy a record that I didn’t know but that looked interesting,” he explained.

Learning the ropes from the masters ultimately led Miles toward production work.

“I got to watch and learn from some incredible producers like Tommy LiPuma, Russ Titelman, Arif Mardin, Marcus Miller, Luther Vandross and others,” he said. “Production is an acquired art that needs to be taught, observed and learned from people who know more than you do. It takes patience and a high skill set. It’s the ability to tie the music and personalities together and create musical magic. The artist is the recipient of this talent. I spent 15 years in the studio before I went out on my own as a producer. It wasn’t until 1999, when I produced [the multi-artist CD and DVD] “Celebrating the Music of Weather Report” that I got immersed into playing live and trying to penetrate into that paradigm.”

That’s just a sampling of the festival lineup.

For information on additional performers, visit www.c­learw­aterj­azz.c­om.
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