Jazz World: JJA’s Jazz Heroes; Montreal Jazz Fest Full Program; Tampa Bay Blues Fest

You may not know their names. But everyone knows their work: The Jazz Journalists Association’s JJA Jazz Heroes are folks who tirelessly advocate for jazz. They get the job done, frequently staying behind the scenes and often receiving too-little recognition for their significant accomplishments.

These doers put their money and time where their mouths are, promoting concerts, assembling and programming festivals, helping artists release recordings and tour, sending great music out on the radio airwaves and engaging in any number of fruitful activities that help spread the gospel of jazz.

These heroes, nominated by community members, will receive their awards in conjunction with the annual JJA Jazz Awards honoring achievements in jazz and jazz journalism.

Thirty-six such people representing 32 cities across the United States — from Albuquerque, N.M. to Wilmington, N.C. — have been named JJA Jazz Heroes for 2023.

The list includes a passionate jazz mover-and-shaker near the Tampa Bay area — Ed Linehan, who’s in his fifth and last year as head of the Jazz Club of Sarasota, which was organized in 1980.

“His tenure at the helm of the nonprofit’s Board of Directors has been marked with the addition of new concert series, rejuvenation of its sagging membership and dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 on two concert seasons, including restoration of the Sarasota Jazz Festival,” wrote the late critic and photographer Ken Franckling. (Here’s my remembrance of Ken for the JJA).

See the complete list of this year’s class of JJA Jazz Heroes.


As previously mentioned in this space, the 2023 Montreal International Jazz Festival is welcoming high-profile jazz, blues, world music, pop and rock talent, including Snarky Puppy, Buddy Guy, (bassist) Avishai Cohen Trio, Mark Guiliana, Stacy Kent Trio, Melody Gardot, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, The Bad Plus, Marisa Monte, The Budos Band and Colin Stetson.

Now the full lineup has been announced, making the program’s 43rd edition even more impressive.

Also headed to Montreal: George Benson, The Brad Mehldau Trio, John Pizzarelli, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Chucho Valdes, Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke, John Scofield (pictured), Thundercat, Nate Smith, The Pedrito Martinez Group, Hiromi, Chris Botti, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Alain Caron, The Weather Station, Son Little and many others.

The fest runs June 23 through July 8. See my coverage of last year’s affair.


Closer to home, St. Petersburg’s long-running Tampa Bay Blues Festival opens Thursday, April 13 with a kick-off concert featuring Tommy Castro & the Painkillers at the Palladium Theater. The party starts at 8 pm.

The fest then moves to its primary venue, Vinoy Waterfront Park, for three full days of blues, funk, old-school R&B and New Orleans music. Just ahead:

Friday, April 14 — Robert Cray (pictured), Tommy Castro, Ana Popovic, Larry McCray Band, Colin James

Saturday, April 15 — Tower of Power, Tab Benoit, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Chris Cain, Dawn Tyler Watson

Sunday, April 16 — The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Mr. Sipp, Vanessa Collier, Jimmy Carpenter, JT Lauritsen & the Buckshot Hunters

Music starts at 12:30 pm April 14 and 15, and at 1 pm on April 16, and ends at 10 pm all three nights. For complete details, check out the official Tampa Bay Blues fest site.

PHILIP BOOTH, a musician and critic based in Tampa, writes for Jazziz, Relix and JazzTimes magazines, and the Substack newsletter Screen Time With Philip Booth. His byline has also appeared in The Washington Post, Billboard, Variety, Tampa Bay Times/St. Petersburg Times, Salon.com, Rolling Stone and many other publications. He was the pop music critic for The Tampa Tribune. Contact him directly at jphilipbooth@hotmail.com.

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