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Savannah Music Festival Recommends 

As we near the second week of the 2005 Savannah Music Festival, it’s already obvious this year’s roster of artists is a stone gas. Here at Connect, we’ve already touched on this in earlier issues - such as our recent cover story on Sunday’s live taping of the popular classical radio show From The Top (if you missed that one, you can always access our archives online at www.connectsavannah.com) – but there’s no shortage of world-class shows.

As always, it’s impossible for us to adequately cover the entire scope of the event in the space we have. For that, we refer you to the official website (www.savannahmusicfestival.org), where you can also order tickets via credit card.

Here then are our suggestions for a few "can’t miss" gigs that are worth every penny, and which folks will likely be talking about for quite some time to come.

Carey & Lurrie Bell

Macon, Miss. native Carey Bell is one of the finest blues harpists alive today. Originally working as a guitarist and bassist on the Chicago scene (where he gigged with the likes of Honeyboy Edwards, Earl Hooker and Big Walter Horton), by the late ‘60s, he was leading his own band, as well as touring with "the" Muddy Waters, and Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All-Stars. One of the more popular artists on the pioneering contemporary blues label Alligator Records, a collaborative LP with Junior Wells, James Cotton and Billy Branch earned him a coveted W.C. Handy Award in 1990. His son Lurrie is a self-taught guitarist who studied at the feet of such legendary axemen as the late Sunnyland Slim. A featured member of both Willie Dixon’s and Koko Taylor’s touring groups, Lurrie has a string of critically-acclaimed albums on the way-cool Delmark label, and is said to shine the brightest when he plays alongside his father. Both Bells sing as well, and their familial bond only adds to their innate feel for raw, emotion-drenched blues. Thurs., 5:30 pm + Fri., 5:30 pm, 8 pm, & 10 pm, Orleans Hall.

Eddie Palmieri’s Latin Jazz Septet

With seven Grammys and four decades of swinging dance music to his name, this celebrated pianist is credited with convincing the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences to finally create a Latin Grammy in 1993. By mixing traditional Hispanic grooves with the bold strokes of keyboard icons Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner, the Harlem native carved his own unique niche in the jazz world - while later forays into salsa, R & B, rock and Spanish pop have kept him at the forefront of the Afro-Caribbean music scene. Backed by a tight and dynamic unit that includes a horn section as well as dedicated bongo, conga and timbalé players, this is festive, infectious dance music with an edge. Sat., 8 pm & 10 pm, Orleans Hall.

San Francisco Jazz Collective

Each year, this stunning repository of improvisatory talent selects a famed jazz composer to salute through that artist’s own works and new pieces by the collective’s members that convey the same spirit and ethos. This time around, they’ve set their sights on the repertoire of the late, great John Coltrane – a near-mythical (and supremely influential) saxophonist and bandleader whose very name carries an almost incomprehensible weight. This is the only Southern date on their tour, which also sees them headlining Lincoln Center. Led by artistic director Joshua Redman (dubbed "crown prince of the tenor sax" by the Associated Press), and featuring such luminaries as vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (known or his 1960s tenure on Blue Note), Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and pianist Renee Rosnes (a protégé of Herbie Hancock). Sun., 7 pm, Lucas Theater (pre-show talk at 6 pm).

 

Mando Madness

Once-in-a-lifetime pairings of A-list musicians has become something of a Savannah Music Fest trademark, ensuring that attendees walk away with an experience that is both memorable and – quite often – entirely unique. Such is the case with this mind-blowing summit meeting of some of the top mandolinists in the world. This who’s who of acoustic pickers reads like some weedy basement pipe dream that’s too good to be true. Backed by what’s being described as "an All-Star cast of instrumentalists" (including Psychograss members Darol Anger on fiddle, Tony Trischka on banjo (!), and David Grier on guitar), this supergroup features mando masters David Grisman (known for his longstanding partnership with the late Jerry Garcia), the Grammy-winning Sam Bush (who toured with Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Bela Fleck, as well as appeared on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers smash O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Tony Wiliamson (the former Bluegrass Alliance member often referred to as one of the finest living mandolinists), and Don Steinberg (who’s played alongside Chet Atkins and Steve Goodman). If you’re even a casual fan of this wonderful instrument that has found a niche in bluegrass, Celtic and classical genres, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Fri., 9 pm, Trustees Theater (pre-concert talk at 8 pm).

 

 

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Jim Reed

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