Dizzy Gillespie’s hometown of Cheraw ushers in its 10th year of the South Carolina Jazz Festival Oct. 16-18 with three days of jazz and community activities. The weekend, which coincides with the 98th anniversary of Gillespie’s birth, will showcase the unique bond Gillespie shared with his South Carolina roots and jazz.
A wide variety of both free and ticketed concerts and events are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16-17. This year’s festival will culminate on Sunday, Oct. 18 with a Jazz Brunch at G.W. Long Church at 11:30 a.m. followed by a Jazz Mass at 3 p.m. on the grounds of First Presbyterian Church.
More than 30 jazz performances are scheduled during the festival. The concerts will feature regional musicians from both North and South Carolina and beyond. Featured artists for the ticketed evening performances at the Theatre on the Green will be the Ignacio Berroa Quartet on Friday and the Carol Welsman Trio on Saturday.
Joining Ignacio on Friday will be saxophonist Skipp Pearson and trumpet player Mark Rapp. These South Carolina musicians along with the Ignacio Berroa Quartet will pay tribute to Gillespie by performing some of his jazz compositions.
Ignacio was a percussionist in many of Dizzy Gillespie’s bands and defined by Gillespie as “….the only Latin drummer in the world of American music that intimately knows both worlds: his native Afro-Cuban music as well as Jazz…”
International jazz pianist and vocalist Carol Welsman comes to the festival upon the release of her new CD “Alone Together” in August.
Weekend activities include a Centennial Park performance by the Freedom’s Groove of the Army Ground Forces Band of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, “Dizzy on Display” at the Southern African American Heritage Center, a Bebop Parade, family art activities, late-night jazz crawls, a jazz breakfast, Bebop & Bites lunch and a wine tasting.
Music and dialogue will be presented at the Gillespie family’s church home. Art abounds during the weekend with an exhibit by jazz artist Eric McCray of Raleigh, North Carolina, Gillespie-inspired artwork by local students, an Italian Madonnari chalk competition and art and fine crafts by regional artists.
Attendees can enjoy a self-guided historic Cheraw cellphone tour to more than 25 points of interest, including Dizzy Gillespie-related sites.
Tickets for a single evening concert at the Theatre on the Green are $30 per person and a two-day weekend ticket is $50 per person.
For more information, call 843-537-8420, extension 12, or visit www.scjazzfestival.com for more information on ticket purchases, festival events, lodging and restaurants.
Lindsay Bennett is executive director of the Cheraw Arts Commission.