SMF’s Swing Central Jazz with music under the oaks in Reynolds Square


On Friday afternoon, various smaller combos from the high school jazz bands that were part of the Savannah Music Festival‘s Swing Central Jazz performed in Reynolds Square. That’s the square just north of the Lucas Theatre, where the Swing Central Jazz finale took place just a little later.

The event moved at a pleasantly quick pace, with each combo playing just a handful of songs before quickly turning the space over to another group. A few of the Swing Central clinicians sat in with various groups. I know one of the trombonists you’ll see in these shots is the great Wycliffe Gordon, and I think the other two are Ron Westray and Paul McKee.

The sessions started at 3:30 but I didn’t make it to Reynolds Square until sometime after 4:30. So I certainly didn’t get shots of all the combos, but — for the record — here are the schools that participated in the impressive Swing Central Jazz this year: Skylite Jazz Band from the Savannah Arts Academy; Agoura High School Studio Jazz Band from Agoura Hills, Calif.; the Charleston School of the Arts Jazz, Charleston, S.C.; the Camden Creative Arts Jazz Band from the Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy, Camden, N.J.; the Denver School of the Arts Jazz Workshop Orchestra, Denver; the Downers Grove South High School Jazz Ensemble, Downers Grove, Ill.; the Grissom High School A Jazz Band, Huntsville, Ala.; the Lower Moreland High School Jazz Ensemble, Huntingdon Valley, Penn.; the Overton High School Blue Jazz Ensemble, Memphis, Tenn.; the Tarpon Springs High School Jazz Ensemble I, Tarpon Springs, Fla.; and the Lovett School Jazz Ensemble, Atlanta.

I know a few of the photos here are of groups from Agoura High School, but I was having such a nice time listening to the jazz and basking in the warm spring weather that I didn’t write down names of the combos as they were introduced. I’ll try to get it sorted out, though, and I’ll be posting an even larger gallery of shots to the Savannah Unplugged Facebook page — “likes” are welcome!

It was great to see the youthful talent and energy on display, not to mention the obvious diversity that jazz attracts. A lot of kids are forming great memories of Savannah through Swing Central Jazz.

So, the lighting: the sun was bright and setting as I was shooting, so some combos and some individuals were hit by bright sunlight, while others remained in shade almost exclusively. Tricky conditions, but — as you can see — some lovely effects.

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