Mini Jazz Fest helps kick off star-studded event

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  • | 12:00 p.m. February 28, 2007
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by Mike Sharkey

Staff Writer

This year’s press conference to announce the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival was much more than the mayor, a podium and a little background music. Sponsors set up booths complete with everything from chicken wings to cookies to coffee, the atrium in City Hall was filled with big, cozy chairs and couches and the sounds of jazz filled the air thanks to the effort of PM Exchange — a jazz band consisting of local high school students.

Come to think of it, the press conference was a mini version of the three-day festival set for April 13-15.

“This year, we enlisted our sponsors to help,” said Christina Langston of the City’s Office of Special Events, which coordinates most of the

“It’s definitely more of an event.”

“It’s a jazzy press conference,” said Theresa O’Donnell Price, division chief of the Office of Special Events.

This year’s Jazz Festival has been pared down to three days and three venues. However, the amount of entertainment has not been compromised. From jazz piano to art to wine tasting to the sounds of national and local acts, the festival should appeal to everyone in some capacity.

The Great American Jazz Piano Competition has moved from Thursday to Friday at 7 p.m.

“We wanted it part of the three-day event,” said O’Donnell Price, adding her office is working with the Jacksonville and the Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau to help make the festival a regional draw. “We want it back on people’s calendars.”

Mayor John Peyton called the Jazz Festival a “great experience” and another reason for thousands of people to visit Downtown.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to create a destination event for the region and engage the urban core,” said Peyton. “People will get to experience first-class jazz at great venues.”

City Council President Michael Corrigan echoed those sentiments.

“This is just another great reason to come Downtown,” he said. “We have a wonderful city and a wonderful Downtown.”

Last year’s event was plagued by bad weather and a dramatic increase in daily ticket prices — two factors that led to some of the worst attendance figures in many years. The ticket prices are $10 a day per person for all three venues, but O’Donnell Price said the $3 service fee charged by Ticketmaster last year has been chopped in half thanks to the City’s decision to go with another ticket distributor. Also, Verizon Wireless is providing free trolley service between the venues which will allow patrons to park once and commute between venues. VIP packages are available for $150 and cover all three days and all three venues. Tickets went on sale Tuesday at noon at the Florida Theatre and online at Tickets may also be purchased on site during the festival at any of the three venues.

This year’s poster — a collector’s item for many and a big seller during the festival — was designed by local artist Beth Haizlip.

“I love Jacksonville and I put everything possible into this poster,” said Haizlip, who will be at the Main Library during the April 4 First Wednesday Art Walk signing her poster.

Jazz drummer Von Barlow is this year’s inductee into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame. Barlow is well-known to Jazz Festival enthusiasts. He’s played in several festivals in the rhythm section for the piano competition four times, including the inaugural competiton when Harry Connick Jr. and Marcus Roberts were finalists. Barlow played at Woodstock in 1969 and has performed with other notable acts such as Lou Rawls, The Ray Charles Trio, Etta James and many others.

The Florida Theatre
Friday, April 13
6 p.m. — Doors open
7 p.m. — The Great American Jazz Piano Competition
The Great American Jazz Piano Competition has been a Jacksonville tradition for more than 20 years. Five finalists, chosen by a selection committee through “blind” judging, will compete for the honor of this award. The first-place winner will receive a monetary prize of $3,500 and will perform at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2007 on Saturday, April 14, at Metropolitan Park. The finalists will be announced the week of March 5.
The rhythm section accompanying the five finalists during the piano competition includes Jay Leonhart on bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums. In addition, the 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, Von Barlow, will perform with emcee Noel Freidline during the competition.
Saturday, April 14
1:30 p.m. — Doors open
2:30 p.m. — Greg Adams
4 p.m. — St. Johns River City Band with special guest Diane Schuur
6 p.m. — Regina Carter
7:30 p.m. — McCoy Tyner
Sunday, April 15
1 p.m. — Doors open
2 p.m. — The Original Super Stars of Jazz Fusion featuring Roy Ayers, Jean Carne, Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders, Ronnie Laws, Jon Lucien and Lonnie Liston Smith with The Ubiquity Band
4 p.m. — Noel Freidline Quintet
5:30 p.m. — Dianne Reeves
• Artists and performance times are subject to change.

Metropolitan Park
Friday, April 13
6 p.m. — Gates open
7 p.m. — Lao Tizer
8:30 p.m. — George Benson and Al Jarreau
6 p.m. — Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
6 p.m. — 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience
Saturday, April 14
10 a.m. — Gates open
12:30 p.m. – The Great American Jazz Piano Competition Winner
1:30 p.m.— Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble I
3 p.m. — UNF Jazz Ensemble 1 with special guest Ed Calle
4:45 p.m. — The Dizzy Gillespie™ All Star Big Band under the direction of Slide Hampton
6:30 p.m. — Wayman Tisdale
8:15 p.m. — Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot and Peter White
10 a.m.–10 p.m. – Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
2-10 p.m. – 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience
Sunday, April 15
Noon — Gates open
1 p.m. — The Kelly-Scott 5tet with special guest Ed Calle
2:30 p.m. — The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra
4 p.m. — Karrin Allyson Quartet
5:30 p.m. – Chris Botti
Noon-7 p.m. – Art at the Met Art Show and Sale
Noon-7 p.m. – 38° Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience
• Artists and performance times are subject to change.

The Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum
Friday, April 13
Late Night at the Ritz
8:30 p.m. — Doors open
9 p.m. – Urban Jazz Coalition
10:30 p.m. – Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Alright, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Golub and Tim Bowman.
Saturday, April 14
4:30 p.m.— Doors open
5:30 p.m. — Ya’ Gozo’ The Latin Jazz Band
7 p.m. — Johnny O’Neal
8:30 p.m. — Roy Haynes
Sunday, April 15
10:30 a.m. – Doors open
11 a.m. – Jazz Brunch catered by Chef Matthew Medure featuring The PM Xperience Band; Live broadcast of the Na’im Rashid’s “First Sunday Cup” radio show.
1:30 p.m. – Marc Dickman
3 p.m. – Chuck Mangione
• Artists and performance times are subject to change.

Ticket Pricing

General Admission

General admission ticket prices are $10 per day plus applicable services charges and include entry to all venues. Tickets may be purchased online at or The Florida Theatre Box Office (904) 355-2787 (ARTS). The Florida Theatre Box Office is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Tickets may also be purchased on site during festival hours at Metropolitan Park, The Florida Theatre and the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum. Children 3 years and under are free.

Experience Jazz as a VIP

VIP tickets are available for all festival days and venues at a cost of $150 plus applicable service charges. The 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Festival VIP experience includes:

• Access all festival days to seating under the Metropolitan Park pavilion and limited VIP seating (first-come, first-seated) at Metropolitan Park and The Florida Theatre as well as admission to the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum.

• Coupon for $5 off with the purchase of $25 or more of jazz merchandise

• Signed and numbered official 2007 Jacksonville Jazz Festival poster

• Jacksonville Jazz Festival tote bag

• Two beverage tickets per day for use at all venues

• One meal ticket per day for use at Metropolitan Park

• Jacksonville Jazz Festival commemorative lapel pin

• Access to 38º Latitude: A Wine Tasting Experience with eight complimentary tastes and commemorative wine glass

• Admission to the Jazz Brunch at the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum

VIP tickets may be purchased online at or The Florida Theatre Box Office (904) 355-2787 (ARTS). The Florida Theatre Box Office is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Experience Jazz VIP packages can be redeemed at all venues during festival hours or prior to the festival at City Hall at St. James, Suite 280 from Monday, March 26 through Thursday, April 12 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Bring VIP ticket for confirmation and entry.

Jazz Brunch

10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Brunch tickets are $25 and are available at the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum on Sunday, April 15. Food will be provided by Chef Mathew Medure, entertainment by The PM Xperience Band and a live broadcast of Na’im Rashid’s “Sunday First Cup” radio show. No advance ticket sales. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and seating is limited. Brunch ticket does not include general admission to the festival.



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