I’m a jazz addict. Having grown up in New York, I used to travel by train and subway to Harlem where the “real jazz” could be found. Who knew that 50 years later I’d be hopping on a trolley in tropical paradise Sarasota) to hear many several jazz bands perform?

So here I am once again ready to participate in the upcoming Jazz Club of Sarasota’s annual Jazz Trolley & Pub crawl on March 14 at UTC Mall. An event that is one of my top favorites, and one that will become one of yours, too, if you book a ticket ($25). 

The Jazz Trolly & Pub Crawl is one but several outstanding concerts and events hosted by the Jazz Club of Sarasota that begins Monday, March 13. I’m proud to have served on the board of the Jazz Club of Sarasota for several years. It’s a wonderful group of jazz enthusiasts who have a passion to preserve the art of jazz in Sarasota. The Jazz Club of Sarasota, now in its 42nd year, is one of two of the top jazz clubs in America and draws top rate talent to Sarasota to play, including many full time (and/or retired) professional musicians who are well known such as American Jazz pianist Dick Hyman.

The inception of the Jazz Club of Sarasota stems back to the 70’s here in Sarasota when a group of New “YAWK” transplants addicted to jazz music gathered in their homes to listen to the sounds of Hal Davis, Benny Goodman, Louie Armstrong and other jazz greats. The group was hosted by Hal Davis, a retired ad executive and one-time publicist for Benny Goodman, and his wife, Evelyn. Word spread throughout Sarasota about this group and soon enough the club was officially launched in 1980 and  the Jazz Club of Sarasota was born.

The festival has drawn thousands of people over the past 42 years through fair membership fees, and  Jazz Club President Ed Linehan says that members surpassed 1,000 by the end of 2022.

This year’s festival runs March 13-18 at Nathan Benderson Park off University. The venue, a big top tent, will be arranged to seat roughly 1,400 concertgoers and feature a medley of top, nationally recognized talent.

Talent has morphed over the years and expanded into more modern artists. Though they continue classic forms of jazz and Big Band,  In 2005, the Jazz Club of Sarasota was applauded for booking modern jazz icon Kenny G, a regular performer at the Van Wezel. See here for a snippet of his concert.  For me, Kenny G is the Golden Standard of modern day jazz and I’ve seen him no less than 10 times both at the Van Wezel and at special Jazz Club of Sarasota events.

Indeed,  Sarasota has a special vibe for those interested in music and the arts. Thanks to John Ringling who invested millions into building magnificent venues for arts, music and culture, Sarasotans (and visitors) continue to support an opera house, a ballet, an orchestra and more.

As a side note, did you know that Louis Armstrong’s only child lives here in Sarasota? Her name is Sharon Prestone-Folta and she’s the author of Little Satchmo, Living in the Shadow of My Father.

Sharon has been a good friend of mine for many years and I helped her to promote her book (I’m a publicist & journalist). Sharon also is one of the focal figures in a new documentary that has won several awards (Little Satchmo).

See photo below (l-r): Tommy Goodman (musical director of Louis Armstrong’s song, Its a Wonderful World,” Andrea Martone, and Louis Armstrong’s daughter, Sharon Preston-Folta.


March 13 – 18
Ticket and event information are available on SarasotaJazzFestival.com.

March 13: VIP Reception: Sponsors and VIP ticket holders by invitation.
March 14: Jazz Trolley Pub Crawl: 10 locations, 10 bands, 5 trolleys.
March 15: Main Stage Concert: Christian Sands Trio (6 p.m.); Lizz Wright Band (8 p.m.). Nathan Benderson Park.
March 16: Jazz Film Series: “The Benny Goodman Story,” Burns Court Cinema
March 16: Main Stage Concert: Allen Carmen Project with Gumbi Ortiz (6 p.m.); Marcus Miller Band (8 p.m.). Nathan Benderson Park.
March 17: Jazz Film Series: “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool.” Burns Court Cinema.
March 17: Main Stage Concert: Dick Hyman & Diego Figueiredo (6 p.m.); Kurt Elling Superblue Band featuring Charlie Hunter (8 p.m.). Nathan Benderson Park.
March 17: Late Night Open Jam Session: La Lucha. Nathan Benderson Park
March 18: Main Stage Concert: Houston Person & Charlie Monaco (6 p.m.); Paquito D’Rivera (8 p.m.). Nathan Benderson Park.
March 18: Late Night Open Jam Session: Synia Carroll Band. Nathan Benderson Park