21st Annual Gulf Jazz Society Jazz by the Bay Festival is three days this year, and it’s free admission all weekend!

By  Cal Zethmayr

The Gulf Jazz Society 21st Annual Jazz By The Bay will be held on Veterans Day weekend, November 11-13 at the Oaks By The Bay Park in Historic St. Andrews.

Friday’s entertainment starts at 6pm with the Dixie Gents. A great Dixieland style Quintet by Pensacola saxophonist Bob Maksymkow. Bob is a veteran Julliard graduate and consummate Jazz artist. He has performed with Les Brown, Glenn Miller, Les Elgart and Frank Sinatra to name a few. He will be fronting an all-star group consisting of Trumpet-Paul Scurto, Piano – Dr. Jill Wofsey, Bass – Steve Gilmore(3 time Grammy winner), and on drums – Pete Wyner.

Stephanie Nakasian

The Friday night Headliner will be Stephanie Nakasian, recognized as one of the leading Jazz singers in the world with 13 recordings and numerous  radio broadcasts for the internationally famous syndicated show “Riverwalk”. She was featured on the Terry Gross show “Fresh Air” and has been called the Renaissance Woman of Jazz.

She is the author of several books – two of which are: “It’s Not The Page” and “You Already Know How To Sing”. Her style is compared to Ella Fitzgerald, June Christy, and Rosemary Clooney. Her performances as a headliner include the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Northsea Jazz Festival, Jazz Party at Sea, and the NC Jazz Fest to name a few. She was married and musically partnered to the late great Jazz Pianist Hod O’Brien, and their daughter is rising Jazz singing star Veronica Swift.

The music gets started on Saturday November 12th at 1pm with The Mike Levine Latin Band. Pianist Mike Levine has gained an excellent reputation in the International world of music. He started with saxophonist Billy Ross when they formed the Ross-Levine Band. Mr. Levine is easily on par with Jazz greats like David Benoit, Brian Culbertson, and Gregg Karukas.

Mike Levine
Mike Levine

Then to the delight of our Saturday afternoon audience, Stephanie Nakasian will present an Encore Performance.

Sean Dietrich

Later in the afternoon former Santa Rosa Beach Jazz Pianist and Vocalist and now famed author Sean Dietrich takes stage. Sean possesses a unique style and sound that sets him apart from the others. He is capable of playing straight ahead or musical satire. Sean has received national recognition for his musical and vocal talents – placing in the Phillips National Piano Competition, performing on NPR and PBS and other prominent venues with some of the finest musicians in the world. He is also a best selling storyteller and author with more than two dozen books in print.

And finally on Saturday night the headliner is Cheryl Jones with Jones and Company often winner of the Best Northwest Florida Band Awards in multiple entertainment magazines and newspapers. Cheryl and her group perform music in the spirit of Traditional Jazz. They have released many albums and performed for events all over Northwest Florida for 30 plus years. This group is appreciated for weaving beautiful musical tapestry that blends Jazz, Funk, R&B, Soul and World music. Ms. Jones has said “This has been our goal from the beginning. To transcend traditional musical boundaries while giving listeners a treat in innovative original artistic musical expressions, for as long as we can”. Jones and Company includes Dr. Cheryl Jones Vocals, Keyboard and Music Director, Ellis Jones on Trombone (and chores assigned by Cheryl) Brent Parcell on Drums, Paul Scurto – Trumpet and Vocals, Ike Bartley – Saxes and Vocals, Wayne Burkholder – Guitar and Vocals. And it is always possible that Alumni of Jones and Company join in, kind of like at a jam session. In other words you will not leave the Oaks by the Bay Park until the last musical note of the encore has drifted out over St. Andrews Bay Saturday night.

Cheryl Jones

Our Sunday lineup exemplifies the very purpose the Gulf Jazz Society was formed in 1996. In fact this past October 3rd was 25 years to the day of the Florida Non-Profit charter being issued for them.  The Gulf Jazz Society has been an advocate of Jazz music in this area of Northwest Florida.  Our mission is to raise the level of awareness of Jazz by presenting monthly live Jazz music events and this annual Jazz By the Bay FREE ADMISSION Festival.  One of the things we do every year is to present scholarships to area High School students that they must use to further advance their Jazz music education.  This past year that was over $3,000.00. 

Jazz By The Bay

This year we are proud that our new third day of the Festival is all about those High School Jazz musicians.  We hope that their families and friends, teachers and classmates will fill up the lawn in front of the Pavilion to hear this lineup starting at 1pm.   The Mosley High School Jazz Orchestra, The Jesse Reese Arnold High School Jazz Combo, and the Arnold High School Jazz Orchestra.  We hope that among those young performers are some of the Jazz artists of the future.

You can help the Gulf Jazz Society continue our 25 year mission of bringing traditional Jazz music to our part of paradise, and encouraging young music students in becoming JAZZ ARTISTS OF THE FUTURE. Become a Member of the Gulf Jazz Society.  There will be applications for new members and current members can pay their 2022 dues. Come see us at the BIG tent.