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Jazz Scene in Florida - Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Pensacola areas

1099 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  lukasali
Hey everyone. My wife and I are thinking of checking out Florida (sometime if the pandemic allows) and I'm curious what the jazz scene is like in these areas. Is there a vibrant jazz scene? Regular gigs and jam sessions? Venues/players who are "must see"? How are people from these areas making it as musicians? Thanks for any info you can give.
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Yeah, of course the virus has had an effect! I'm just wondering generally though, so your response is helpful. Thanks!
Pensacola is a lovely town in varying states of prosperity and hurricane recovery which blossoms seasonally with snowbirds and loves any kind of party or festival, and live music with generally broad appeal. There is a substantial artist community and numerous galleries. Some solid jazz pianists and singers find most of their work in hotel and resort lounges, just the way it is. The jazz society is variably active depending on leadership and member enthusiasm, and tries to support local schools. Regular free evening concerts in a downtown green space included more Dixieland than bop or hard bop, but those were suspended due to lapsed funding which had been provided by local business and private patrons. Paying gigs must appeal to tourist taste and you find singer-songwriters at the beach bars by day and rock at night. There was a weekly free blues concert on the beach with local bands, don't know if still happening. There had been genuine annual jazz festivals at nearby upscale towns such as Seaside but I don't know their current status. This was my impression as a music consumer who lived there about ten years ago. Not to say you couldn't scare up some players for a jam if you asked around.
Awesome info, thanks. Do people busk along the beach? Seems like a good spot for that sort of thing.
I live in Tampa Bay area, it's ok. My quintet was playing out 1-2 times per month (it's a side project more than anything), but I'd guess a few nights per week somewhere in town you'd be able to see live jazz. We have quite a few heavy players here, though none of them are "household names". Butch Thomas is one, he played in Jaco's big band, and toured the world with Sting in the mid-90s. If you end up coming down here, reach out if you'd like to beforehand.
Yeah, I googled it and there were quite a few venues that have/had jazz regularly from what I saw. Is there much of a tourist industry in the Tampa area, or along the West coast?
Thanks guys for all the good info - I'll follow up on your suggestions and ask more questions if they arise.
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