Now in its 36th year, the 2017 Savannah Jazz Festival was sponsored by JodyJazz this past September.
JodyJazz founder, president, and acclaimed saxophone player Jody Espina was also a major participant and frequent musical contributor to the event performing on several nights of the festival.
The Monday of the festival featured the premiere of the recently-completed film documentary on the legendary bass player, singer, composer and entrepreneur Ben Tucker. Tragically killed in a freak automobile accident in 2013, Ben Tucker was one of Savannah's most revered residents. A close friend and mentor, Espina was honored to play in the Ben Tucker Tribute band, which performed prior to the screening.
By Friday, the festival had moved to the outdoor stage at Forsyth park and featured a rousing set from saxophone player and JodyJazz artist Andy Snitzer and his group, sponsored by JodyJazz. Snitzer invited Espina to sit in on a couple of tunes. Playing a mixture of Snitzer's own compositions and R&B classics like Rufus & Chaka Khan's “Tell Me Something Good,” Snitzer and his group soon got the audience up off its feet.
Friday night's headliner was the legendary jazz singer, former Count Basie Band member, and Grammy-Award-winner Carmen Bradford, who performed with the Savannah Jazz Orchestra. Espina again played on Saturday night, performing first with the Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame Band, and then with his new group The Presidents that he co-leads with Howard Paul of Benedetto Guitars. Featuring Mark Peterson on acoustic bass and Karl Latham on drums, the group was joined onstage by drum and percussion virtuoso Andrés Forero.
Breaking all records for audience attendance the 2017 Savannah Jazz Festival was a resounding success. JodyJazz plans to support the festival again in 2018.