SAND KEY, Florida. – For 32 years, jazz fans and musicians have gathered the weekend before Thanksgiving to tap their feet and dance all day at the Suncoast Jazz Festival in Sand Key.
“Art Blakey, a jazz drummer, used to say that jazz music takes the dust out of everyday life, so for a lot of people that’s how it is,” said performer Jeff Rupert.
The event occupies five ballrooms across the Sheraton and Marriot and features performances from more than 80 artists, who come from around the world and locally to showcase their own tunes and honor the legends who created the classics.
“You have some of the biggest names in jazz here,” Rupert added. “Houston Person is here, a lot of famous jazz musicians, so it’s like you’re here in Clearwater, but it’s like you’re in New York.”
The annual Suncoast Jazz Festival attracts artists from around the world.
Or it might even sound like Brazil if you attend one of Grammy-nominated Brazilian jazz guitarist Diego Figueiredo’s concerts.
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“Suncoast is a very special festival,” Figueiredo explained. “There are different musicians and different perspectives – different acts…I’m actually playing three acts at this festival, with the band as a duo, as a solo.”
A couple dances to smooth jazz during the Suncoast Jazz Festival.
Rupert and percussionist Jason Marsalis told FOX 13 that collaborating with each other is a special part of the experience. It’s what brings music to life, whether it’s a composed song or pure improvisation.
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“It means community,” Marsalis pointed out. “When you bring all these different musicians together, there’s a great chance and a great possibility for a big musical statement to be made and something to uplift everyone.”
Performers will present their own works and pay homage to legends.
Suncoast Jazz Fest‘s “Sunday Recovery” kicks off with jazz brunches and an afternoon barbecue with New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins.
For tickets and more information, visit https://suncoastjazzfestival.com/.