Savannah Jazz Festival

A poster for the sammamish jazz fest.

Performances to Watch at the Savannah Jazz Festival

Southern falls bring in a bountiful harvest of small wonders. Among them are statuesque trees with honey-dipped leaves, sweet and warm peach ciders and a flurry of festivals. This piece is about the latter. Fall in the Lowcountry is literally full of festivities. Not one dull weekend passes. During these cooler months, locals and wayfarers alike aggregate to celebrate everything from food and film to art and culture. Next on the horizon is a week-long festival that pays tribute to the rich and variegated tapestry that is jazz music.

Now in its 36th year, the Savannah Jazz Festival is a special opportunity to celebrate America’s homegrown musical legacy. Featuring influences from tuneful traditions across the globe, jazz music is emblematic of the American melting-pot. Inspired by the iconic genre, aficionados from the Savannah area united to found the Coastal Jazz Association back in 1981. Their annual festival promotes inclusion and diversity through a shared appreciation for jazz. This year’s festival is happening now through September 23rd. Taking place at venues throughout historic Downtown Savannah, all festival events and concerts are free and open to the public. So, unless you hate good music, there’s no reason not to swing by if you’re looking for something to do this week. Be sure to check the schedule for the full list of events, but here’s a few noteworthy performances that you don’t want to miss out on.

Ben Tucker Film Premiere

This year’s jazz fest lineup has just the thing to help you out of your Monday slump: a tribute to renowned jazz bassist Ben Tucker.  On September 18 at 7 pm, the Ben Tucker Tribute Band will give a stellar performance featuring several of Tucker’s most celebrated songs in anticipation of a special world premiere.  Following at 8 pm, the Coastal Jazz Association and Friends of Ben Tucker will present “In Tune: The Ben Tucker Story”. Recounting the life and work of Savannah’s own Ben Tucker, the documentary will debut at the iconic Lucas Theatre. Be sure to get there early to get a good seat.

Palmetto Latin Orchestra

Latin music lovers: clear your Tuesday night because Palmetto Latin Orchestra is coming to venue near you. At 7 pm at the Westin Savannah Harbor, the 11-piece Latin band will give a spectacular set with the verve and vibrancy that is so emblematic of “Musica Tropical”. With crisp horns and resounding percussion, Palmetto Latin Orchestra will bring the heat. Expect a colorful concert featuring Latin jazz, salsa, merengue, bachata and more. Wear your dancing shoes.

Finale Saturday

Each year, the last three fest days take place at the beautiful Forsyth Park, and if there’s ever any one day to attend the jazz fest, it’s definitely the Saturday finale. Every finale features the biggest and best in jazz music, and this year is no different. Look forward to inspired performances from the Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame and The Presidents with Howard Paul and Jody Espina. The Fort Benning Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Band and the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble will also take the amphitheater stage. The festival will close out with a melodic tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Late Night Jams

An honorable mention for the night owls – if you like to unwind in the midst of an after hours jazz jam session, the festival has got you covered. There will be late night jams starting at 11 pm the last three nights of the festival. The first is on Thursday at Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant, with performances at the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Friday and at the DeSoto Hotel on Saturday. Anyone who can stay up and get down is encouraged to come out.

About the Author:
Chantel Baul

Chantel Baul is a Savannah native with a knack for writing and an ever-growing curiosity. She received her BA in English and Professional Communications from Armstrong State University, and when she’s not writing she’s serving the country as a US Army Reserve Officer. She’s an NPR nerd/foodie with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and fun.

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