A group of Miamians is jumping on the jazz bandwagon as well, attempting to cater to a different crowd from the one that has helped establish this town's international reputation as home base for Latin tunes and dance music. To wit: the Miami Jazz Festival, taking over Bayfront Park for nearly twelve hours each day this weekend. A slew of local acts such as George Tandy, Ira Sullivan, Mantra, Karen Jones, and Iko-Iko (wait, aren't they blues?) will warm up the stage with their sets early in the afternoon in anticipation of the big guns who'll tender 90-minute performances come nightfall. Safe offerings such as hometown bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez and popular alto saxophonist David Sanborn headline the first evening. Smooth guitarist/singer Jonathan Butler and acclaimed Latin jazz band leader/percussionist Poncho Sanchez finish off the festivities Sunday night.
But a mere two days is not enough for some. Local jazzsters Mantra and their cohorts will make the music last a bit longer. They plan to buttress the festival with ancillary events, including performances, clinics, and workshops at the Miami Art Museum on Saturday and the Wallflower Gallery on Monday, plus a multicultural musical after-party also on Saturday at Tobacco Road. "What we are adding to this festival is a community component," notes Mantra drummer Marlon Moore. "I want to see all segments of this community come out, mingle peacefully, and understand themselves much better. We're creating something special here."