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    Waves of jazz to wash over Clearwater

    The Clearwater Jazz Holiday makes its 21st appearance this weekend with jazz in Coachman Park and much more.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 16, 2000

    CLEARWATER -- It's the third week in October. And in Clearwater that means more than cooler temperatures.

    Jazz fans will flock to the city this week for the annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday, the biggest musical festival in Pinellas County. The four-day event begins Thursday at Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater.

    Excitement has been building for weeks. Volunteers have been working on final touches. A local church held a special jazz service on Sunday. And sponsors and community leaders will gather Tuesday at a private party to celebrate the opening of the 21st annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

    Like previous years, event organizers are promising a stellar lineup, a variety of food and a beautiful waterfront venue.

    But those who attend the free festival also can expect some changes.

    Such as coolers, for instance. Don't bring them.

    For the first time in the event's history, coolers and picnic baskets will not be allowed in the park. "We're trying to discourage the alcohol," said Karen Vann, executive director of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. "It's not that we're being mean."

    Though beer and wine are sold at the festival, it is illegal for people to bring alcoholic beverages into the park. So since 1997, when city commissioners passed an ordinance allowing the sale of alcohol at public venues, volunteers have had to search each cooler that passed through one of four entrances.

    "It is not only time-consuming, but it bottlenecks the entrances when someone has a cooler," said Vann, adding that last year fewer than 25 percent of festivalgoers brought coolers to the festival.

    Vann said large beach umbrellas won't be allowed in the park, either. Often, she said, they block the views of others.

    Here's what else you need to know:

    MUSIC: The lineup is a good mix of traditional and contemporary styles, said Jason Koransky, editor of Down Beat magazine. "There is stuff for the purist jazz fan to listen to," he said. They include pianist Eric Reed, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who swept Down Beat's 65th annual readers' poll, winning Jazz Trumpeter of the Year, Jazz Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. "He has a great band," Koransky said.

    Local talent will be showcased. Orquestra Infinidad, the Mike MacArthur Group and Nu Soul Company will perform. Each group won a band search competition sponsored by Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

    FOOD: You may be waiting in lines. Because of a fire ordinance that mandates a 5-foot distance between food stations, the number of vendors dropped from 19 to 10. "It was a space thing," Vann said. Still, she said, there will be plenty of choices, including Caesar salads, grouper sandwiches, crab cakes and hand-dipped ice cream bars.

    PARKING: Basically, it's wherever you can find a space on side streets and in city lots and garages. Parking is free in garages after 7 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends. Parking meters are free after 6 p.m. weekdays and all weekend.

    AUDIO/VISUAL: Spectators can expect a high-quality sound system. Those who end up in the back of the park will be able to see the stage on two 10- by 14-foot screens. During the concerts, two camera operators capture close-up shots of musicians. Another camera is strapped on a crane that takes wide shots. A fourth camera shoots from a tripod in front of the stage. A production crew controls the feed and decides which images to beam on the two screens on either side of the stage.

    ON TELEVISION: BET on Jazz, a division of Black Entertainment Television, is continuing its sponsorship deal with Clearwater Jazz Holiday. "It's been a great relationship," said Paxton Baker, a senior vice president with BET on Jazz. "It's growing every year." Part of the sponsorship deal provides for filming the event. The cable company will produce a one-hour special on the festival and include footage of the four days on Jazz Scene, a magazine show. An air date has not been determined.

    JAZZ RUN: More than 1,000 runners and walkers are expected to participate Saturday in the Shells Jazz Bridge Run. The Clearwater Breakfast Sertoma Club is organizing the 5-kilometer run, which will start at 8 a.m. at the top of the Clearwater Pass Bridge. Participants will meet at Coachman Park and be bused to the start of the race. For information, call race director Stu Johnson at (727) 595-2586.

    FIREWORKS SHOW: Those who attend the festival Saturday night will be treated to a fireworks display at 9 p.m. The show will be a tribute to the late Tito Puente, who died in June. The Latin band leader wrote the Santana hit Oye Como Va and won a Grammy this year for traditional tropical Latin performance. Puente was a regular at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday and headlined last year's festival.

    "The music. The water. The weather," Vann said. "It's a fun, family event, and you can't beat it for free."

    2000 Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    Orquestra Infinidad: 6 to 7:15 p.m.

    Eric Reed: 7:45 to 9 p.m.

    Dee Dee Bridgewater: 9:30 to 11 p.m.


    Mike MacArthur Group: 6 to 7:15 p.m.

    Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: 7:45 to 9 p.m.

    Stanley Clarke: 9:30 to 11 p.m.


    U.S. Air Force Band: 12:45 to 1:45 p.m.

    Yellowjackets: 2:15 to 3:30 p.m.

    Tim Hockenberry: 4 to 5:15 p.m.

    Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band: 5:45 to 7 p.m.

    Bellevue Cadillac: 7:30 to 8:45 p.m.

    Patti Austin: 9:30 to 11 p.m.


    Nu Soul Company: 1 to 2 p.m.

    Oleta Adams: 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.

    Fred Johnson: 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.

    Monty Alexander: 6 to 7:15 p.m.

    Terence Blanchard: 7:45 to 9 p.m.

    * * *

    For information on Clearwater Jazz Holiday, call (727) 461-5200 or visit

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