In a world where entertainment has become transient and the performer with the most outrageous outfit garners instant accolades, it's sometimes difficult to get attention for music that really matters. So any event that celebrates "serious" music — jazz in this case — begs attention.
Jazz's roots reach back to the beginning of the last century. Its mainstays — George Gershwin, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and too many more to name — are considered great American masters, artists whose creativity, imagination, and foresight allowed their music to make an indelible imprint on world culture.
"Jazz is a true American art form that this country shared with the world," says Carmen Cartiglia, creator and executive producer of the Miami Beach Jazz Festival. He's gathered an impressive array of artists from Israel, Australia, Latvia, France, Brazil, and Austria to illustrate this year's festival theme, the "International Sound of Jazz."
"The joy of jazz has been shared throughout the world, and in each place it goes, something new is added to the mix," Cartiglia says. "There's an old saying: 'If you love something, let it go, and it will eventually come back to you.' That's how this music is. We gave it to the world, and it came back more enriched and vibrant than ever."
He's quick to tout this year's participants as the brightest stars on the world stage.
Daniel Zamir is an Israeli alto saxophone player with strong spiritual leanings. His 2000 debut album, Amen, became his country's bestselling jazz album of all time and helped introduce jazz music to a mainstream audience in Israel.
France's Philippe Léogé studied at the Berklee School of Music and recently released his third piano-solo CD, My French Standards Songbook.
The Markus Gottschlich Trio is an international group consisting of Austrian-American pianist Markus Gottschlich, whose work has often been compared to Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett; drummer and Grammy winner Jose Javier Freire from Puerto Rico; and bassist and Grammy winner Rodner Padilla from Venezuela.
Joe Carter has performed worldwide with a vast array of internationally known artists. He fuses his influences into a style he refers to as "samba jazz," blending the improvisational nature of North American jazz with the lyric and rhythmic aspects of Brazilian bossa nova, samba, and choro.
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Australian James Morrison is a widely recognized composer and trumpeter who is also adept on soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, clarinet, flugelhorn, bass trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, double bass, guitar, and piano. He composed and performed the opening song at Sydney's 2000 Olympic Games and, in July 2013, conducted the world's largest orchestra — comprising 7,224 musicians — in Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
All will play at the Miami Beach Jazz Festival's final performance. This year's fest began January 25 with a series of master classes and workshops and will culminate January 30 with the artists' performances at Miami's historic Olympia Theater.
"There is a major education element that's tied to the festival," Cartiglia points out. One of the things he's most enthusiastic about is the opportunity to educate attendees who may be unaware of jazz and its major players. "The festival introduces audiences to great artists while allowing students to learn one-on-one from these master musicians. First and foremost, it gives us the opportunity to bring this music to a new generation. Our goal is to share the spirit of this great music and bring it the recognition it deserves."
Miami Beach Jazz Festival with Daniel Zamir, the Markus Gottschlich Trio, and others. 7 p.m. Saturday, January 30, at the Olympia Theater, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami; 305-374-2444; olympiatheater.org. Tickets cost $45 to $150 via olympiatheater.org.