CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Florida Smooth Jazz Foundation will present the Clearwater Smooth Jazz Jam, featuring performances from Mindi Abair, Vanessa Williams, and Boney James on Friday, June 2; and from Jonathan Butler, David Sanborn & Marcus Miller, and Brian Culbertson on Saturday, June 3.
Both events start at 7 p.m. and will be presented at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.
Tickets for each night start at $63.75. Two-day Jam Passes, which include a ticket for both nights, also are available starting at $124.50. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com.
Two-time Grammy nominee Abair is a saxophonist, vocalist, and author of “How to Play Madison Square Garden.” You might know her as the featured saxophonist on “American Idol,” or from touring and/or recording with Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Gregg Allman, Smokey Robinson, and more. As a solo artist, she has consistently topped the Contemporary Jazz and Blues charts, earning her first Grammy nomination in 2014 for Summer Horns and her second nomination in 2015 for her solo album “Wild Heart.”
Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in the entertainment industry today. Her critically acclaimed work in film, television, recordings and the Broadway stage has been recognized by every major industry award affiliate including four Emmy nominations, 11 Grammy nominations, a Tony nomination, three SAG award nominations, seven NAACP Image Awards and three Satellite Awards. Her platinum single “Colors of the Wind,” from Disney’s “Pocahontas,” won the Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
At the age of 10, James picked up the sax after two years on the clarinet and never looked back, parlaying his love of R&B — Motown, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield and Grover Washington Jr. — into a musical aesthetic. During his 30-year career, James has earned four Grammy nominations, two NAACP Image Award nominations and a Soul Train Award, while a dozen of his albums have landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album chart.
Butler is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who leads a life few can imagine. Born in South Africa under the shadow of apartheid and raised in poverty, Butler was the first non-white artist to be played on South African radio and appear on national television. His commitment to his craft came to fruition with his self-titled debut album, which received a Grammy nomination for the pop hit “Lies.” An instrumental “Going Home” earned him another Grammy nomination and the mid-tempo ballad “Sarah, Sarah” confirmed Butler’s place in popular music.
Sanborn has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight gold albums and one platinum. Having inspired countless other musicians, Sanborn has worked in many genres which typically blend instrumental pop, R&B and traditional jazz. He released his first solo album “Taking Off” in 1975 but has been playing the saxophone since before he was in high school when he was inspired by the great Chicago blues artists near his hometown of St. Louis.
Miller is a two-time Grammy award winner, winner of the 2013 Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement In Jazz, winner of the 2010 Victoire du Jazz and in 2013, was appointed a UNESCO Artist for Peace. His characteristic bass sound can be heard on a limitless catalog of musical hits from Bill Wither’s “Just the Two of Us,” to Luther Vandross’ “Never too Much,” to songs from Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Elton John and Bryan Ferry.
Over the course of crafting a 25-album catalog and architecting nearly 40 Billboard No. 1 singles as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, Culbertson has charted his own unique course in music. Label him jazz and he makes a funk record. Call him an R&B artist and he drops an acoustic jazz trio collection. Brand him pop and he creates a 32-minute new age opus. Culbertson burst onto the scene in 1994 with a chart-topping album that he recorded in his college apartment featuring keyboard-led contemporary jazz tracks. “Long Night Out” landed him a lengthy record deal and signaled that a star was born.