Friday's Coastal Jazz Association Christmas concert is a tradition with a hard-won history.
Back in the 1950s, Savannah had separate unions for white musicians and black musicians. It was in this period that the Flamingo, a black club on the corner of West Gwinnett Street and Stiles Avenue, would throw a jazz jam every Christmas.
Some years, the place - which held more than 300 people - would be packed wall-to-wall with holiday revelers. Among the driving forces on the jazz scene then - as now - was trombonist Teddy Adams, a Savannah native who dreamed of the day the color barrier would be forever broken.
Adams joined the Air Force in the mid 1960s and wound up in Japan, where he spent the better part of two decades gigging with many of Tokyo's finest, including saxophone legend Sadao Watanabe.
When he returned stateside, and to Savannah, Adams found the jazz scene had very nearly evaporated. Along with professional bassist Ben Tucker, who'd recently moved to the Hostess City, he began to pull musicians (black, white, and whoever else was good enough) together - and one of his first objectives was to re-establish the holiday jazz concert.
They started the Telfair Jazz Society, and beginning in 1976 held a Christmas Jazz Jam wherever they were permitted to set up their equipment - it's been at The Marshall House, Cha Bella, the Mulberry Inn, the Hyatt Regency and various other spots.
. The 2009 show happens at the Westin-Savannah Harbor Resort, on Hutchinson Island. "This is our 34th consecutive year," Adams says proudly. "Haven't missed one since we got it going again back in '76."
It's the annual CJA fundraiser, for its student scholarship education fund
Adams' band for the gig includes vocalist Gina Rene, with Delbert Felix on bass, Quentin Baxter on drums, Eric Jones on piano, plus other surprise guests.
"It's not all holiday music," says Adams. "Christmas music is not the designated style.
"The first half is the concert, and in the second half, we open it up for a jam session."
At 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 25 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort, 1 Resort Drive. Tickets are $15 advance, $20 at the door. Call (912) 920-1317, or see www.coastal-jazz.org.
DESOT0 ROW CONCERT
Electronica, experimentation, ambiance and cultured noise all come together in this extraordinary gathering of musical tribes - six of these solo performers are Tampa-based artists on a week-long southern tour, joined on the road trip by Savannah's own J. Zagers, a multi-instrumentalist whose house shows - pre-recorded guitar, bass and organ, with live drums - have become the stuff of local legend.
"For a live setting, what I do is play along to a 4-track, with different tracks going into a different amp," Zagers says. "I used to do it more with drums and like a quad amp setup, and what I've been doing more lately is saxophone music. I pre-record the other saxophone tracks and then I play over the top of it."
The touring players are Ant Parade, S2K, Haves&Thirds, Father Finger, Moon Dust + and Solid Susan Under Ice (the latter is the nom de studio of Carlos Gonzales, and he actually hails from Providence, R.I.).
Joining in the antics for Sunday's indie show are Savannah's KZL, a code name for Keith Kozel ("solo performances tend to sway around folk songs, ambience, guitar fuzz and sometimes guest performers"), plus (Seth) Oubliette, from the town of Clyo, and the guitar-based trio Cripple Wizard.
S2K, says Zagers, "keeps these kids on their toes, and lets them know that a giant swarm of chaos can be lurking right around the corner.
"Usually introducing a new setup of electronic circuitry each show or tour, S2K has never once ceased to amaze me with his performances of circuit mastery and invention. Usually accompanied with a speech over the music in the intro or ending of the sounds, letting YOU know just how HE interprets the moment."
Ant Parade, he explains, "follows up with often loop-or drone-based songs, still containing plenty of melody and harmony. Odd tones take up the backround while her voice runs all over the song taking many points of reference with her vocal melodies."
At 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27 outside Maldoror's Frame Shop and Rare Prints Gallery, in the Starland Design District, 2418 De Soto Ave. Call (912) 443-5355. Admission by donation.
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