“The caliber of internationally acclaimed jazz artists provides an experience unlike any other in Polk County culminating in a grand finale weekend blow out on the shores of Lake Wailes Park,” says Lucille Hadley, interim director of Arts and Cultural Affairs. “It’s going to feel like you’re visiting a jazz club on the west coast or in New York City.”
Back by popular demand, The New Orleans Nighthawks kick off festivities during the Downtown Concert Series from 12:30-1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29; Jazmin Ghent, Thursday, March 30; and Elias Tona and The Latin Jazz Trio at the Polk State College JD Alexander Center in Lake Wales.
Jazmin made her debut aboard the Smooth Jazz Cruise 2014 where she opened for the Sirius XM Hall of Fame Ceremony hosted by Marcus Miller. A graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s in Music Education/Jazz studies, Jazmin earned a master’s Tennessee State University.
The Jazz Fest moves to the Polk State Lake Wales Arts Center for a concert by the Polk State Jazz Society at 6 p.m. and The Andrew Allen Trio and Friends at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 31. An instrumental jazz ensemble that performs originals and covers of video game, movie, television and pop culture hits, the Andrew combines jazz sensibilities with Rock, HipHop, R&B, Funk, Blues and Soul, called a mixture of Snarky Puppy and Miles Davis meets Jonathan Coulton (JoCo), and Paul and Storm.
The Outdoor Jazz Concert begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 1 on the shores of Lake Wailes in Lake Wales. The Polk State College Jazz Ensemble performs at 1 p.m.; Victoria de Lissovoy Quintet featuring Charlie Topp Hines is at 3:30 p.m.; Elias Tona and The Latin Jazz Trio performs at 4:45 p.m.; and the Andrew Allen Trio and Friends headlines at 6 p.m.
The Sounds of Gospel kick off the concerts at noon on Sunday, April 2; Jazmin Ghent performs at 1:15 p.m.; The New Orleans Nighthawks play at 2:30 p.m.; and Shalyah Fearing wraps up the event at 4 p.m. Local jazz fans recognize trumpeter Charlie “Topp” Hines, featured on the poster, who performs along with pianist and vocalist Victoria de Lissovoy, and many other popular jazz artists.
Although too humble to toot his own horn, Hines’ life story is impressive. He overcame tremendous obstacles during segregation to become a great musician who attended Boston’s Berklee School of Music and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1978.
Hines’ interest in music began at age 7 beating on wash tubs on his back porch in Newnan, Ga. After picking up the trumpet at age 12, Hines has played professionally for 57 years. His career started at age 17 in the Air Force Band, allowing him to play for two U.S. Presidents. Jazz influences include Paul Mitchell, John LaPorta and Duke Pearson. Performing in the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and the Duke Person Big Band, he toured with R&B groups Jackie Wilson, Al Green and Johnnie Taylor. An all time favorite was Mary Wells, the 1960s Queen of Motown, who recorded “My Guy” and other hits.
“Music is supposed to lift your spirit and I try to paint a picture with each note I play so you can hear the full story of everything I have lived and the joy within the pain I experienced,” said Charlie. “I have a great life.”
Concerts are at Polk State JD Alexander Center, 152 E Central Ave.; Polk State Lake Wales Arts Center, 1099 State Rd. 60; and on the shores of Lake Wailes Park in Lake Wales.
Visit polk.edu/ArtsCenter, call 863.298.6883, or email LWAC@polk.edu for more information.
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