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The Scene: Brigadoon by the Beach

Florida’s Suncoast Jazz Festival is bringing younger players into its traditional mix

Suncoast Jazz Festival

The long-running Suncoast Jazz Festival, its 29th edition slated for this November on Clearwater Beach in Clearwater, Fla., might best be defined by the kind of festival that it isn’t. Unlike the area’s well-known big jazz festival, it’s not a single-venue outdoors affair dominated by non-jazz acts. Nor is it a fairgrounds-style event with multiple stages devoted to multiple genres.

Instead, the Suncoast fest is more like an intimate party: 1,500 or so devoted listeners, largely skewing in the direction of 60 candles and older, hear new and old favorites on five indoor stages at a pair of comfortable hotels on the Gulf of Mexico. Festgoers listen to and mingle with jazz, swing, big-band, and blues players, and between performances break away to enjoy picture-perfect late-fall beach time. Free trolley service enables attendees to easily shuttle between the two locations.

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Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. The debut CD from his band, Acme Jazz Garage, gained airplay on about 35 radio stations across the US.