The Lineup


Critics associate Sonny Fortune’s work with that of John Coltrane, Sydney Bechet, and Charlie Parker. Born in Philadelphia, Fortune earned his right of passage in the New York Jazz scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and has worked with greats as Leon Thomas, McCoy Tyner, and Buddy Rich. He has recorded with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, Oliver Nelson, and George Benson, among others. His Blue Note CDs have received rave reviews and have been featured on many Ten Best lists. He has been featured on many broadcast TV shows including CBS’s 48 Hours with Dan Rather, who did a feature on Sonny and his work. Most influenced by John Coltrane, Fortune’s 2000 release, Spirit of John Coltrane is his tribute to the great work of Trane.



Sponsored by Miner Family Wines

Called “One of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years,” by ‘The Village Voice,’ Dave Stryker has recorded 26 Cds as a leader. His recent recording Messing With Mister T is a tribute to his years playing as sideman with the legendary Stanley Turrentine. It was picked by ‘Downbeat Magazine’ as one of the top CDs of 2014. He has toured Europe, Japan, Brazil, Poland, and has played at Carnegie Hall. We are thrilled to welcome him for the first time to the Savannah Jazz Festival!  Enjoy this cut:



Sponsored by Bernard Williams & Co., and Enmark Stations
Six-time Emmy award-winning composer and keyboard player, Peter Fish, has put together an ensemble that delivers funky jazz sounds akin to Herbie Hancock in the ’70s. He has performed with music greats such as Tony Bennett and Keith Emerson, and his band members have played with big names including Paul Simon, Count Basie Orchestra, Kid Rock, Rob Thomas, and Kool and the Gang. This is their inaugural visit to Savannah and Fish says, “My band and I are so excited to be bringing our unique brand of jazz/funk to the Savannah Jazz Festival. Being abosultely free of charge, this is truly one of the most important and unique festivals in the country.  We can’t wait to play for the people of Savannah in Forsyth Park!  Thanks so much to our sponsors, Bernard Williams and Enmark Stations, for making this happen! Check them out at



Sponsored by The Consulate General of Israel, Savannah Jewish Federation, and Mr. George Jorgenson

Yotam Silberstein joins us for the first time this year and says, “My band and I are really excited for our debut at the Savannah Jazz Festival and can’t wait to meet all the people of Savannah!” Since his arrival in New York, from Tel Aviv, on a scholarship to The New School in 2005, Yotam Silberstein has been making big waves on America’s Jazz shores. The Jazz Times claimed, “Since his arrival in New York in 2005, Israeli guitarist Yotam Silberstein has made an impact on the scene with his precision bebop lines and fleet-fingered improvisations.” In his eleven years here he has collaborated with such jazz luminaries as James Moody, Paquito D’Rivera, Roy Hargrove, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Stars.


His style runs the spectrum from straight ahead jazz to world music, Brazilian, bebop and blues. All About Jazz said, “He isn’t piggy backing on memories. He’s forging his own path with skills and style.” Listen to this:



Sponsored by Dr. Brad Durham, D.D.S.

At the ripe old age of 21, King Solomon Hicks has been the lead guitarist at the Cotton Club with a 13-piece band since he was 13 years old and has played with legendary acts such as Tony Bennett and the B.B. King Blues Band. Those in the know call him “Little B.B.” and we are thrilled to have him headlining this year’s Blues Night in Forsyth Park. He is fired up to join us and said, “Playing at the Savannah Jazz festival will be special for me because I’ll be playing for an audience who understands and appreciates the soul and the importance of blues and jazz. I plan to bring some NYC blues attitude to the festival and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone.” His recent CD is entitled ‘Carrying the Torch of the Blues,’ and indeed he is! Here is a little taste of Little B.B..




Dubbed Atlanta’s First Lady of Jazz, Audrey Shakir is internationally acclaimed and her scatting style has been compared to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Wynton Marsalis says of her, “Audrey Shakir is one of the greatest bebop singers in the world today, a talent with a thrilling voice, sure to send elation through the audience.” Her CD, If You Could See Me Now” for Hot Shoe Records showcases her unique vocal signature on a wide selection of standards and jazz classics. Here she is with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York, broadcast on CBS This Morning on December 19, 2015:



We welcome the return of saxophone and flute virtuoso Don Braden to the 35th Savannah Jazz Festival. Braden is playinHe has served as sideman for jazz greats including Betty Carter and Wynton Marsalis among many others. Braden’s recently released record, Luminosity is upbeat and guaranteed to put you in a good mood. He is also the Director of the renowned Litchfield Jazz Camp and his list of accolades is a long one. He is super excited to be with us again this year and said, “I love performing at the Savannah Jazz Festival because the very diverse audience really appreciates the music, and I’m amazed that it is all presented free of charge as a service to the community. Also, there are so many fine jazz players in the Savannah area, that I have wonderful musical experiences every time. I’m glad to be returning for 2016! Here he is with the Boston Pops:



Benedetto Guitar artist, Barry Greene, is not only a virtuoso performer, he is also a professor of jazz studies at the University of North Florida and a published author on jazz instruction. He has performed all over the United States and Europe and is considered on of the country’s finest jazz guitarists. Of his playing, the legendary Pat Martino says, “’I’ve been enjoying the guitar as an instrument and its amazing artists all of my life. To me Barry Greene is just about one of the best; not only as a player, but also as a writer and a teacher. I agree with others who regard him as a world class musician.” He is joined for this year’s festival by pianist Kevin Bales, drummer Marlin Patton, and bass Kevin Smith




Hailed as one of the best university jazz ensembles in the country, the UNF Jazz Ensemble #1 was founded in 1986 by the legendary Rich Matteson. All members of this ensemble are undergraduates who have consistently won many group and individual award and have been praised by such esteemed publications as Cadence, Jazz Times, and Down Beat. Its improvisational prowess and precise ensemble playing have warranted greats to play with them including Herbie Hancock, The Count Basie Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, and many more. This year, they will be joined by the world-renowned saxophone and flute virtuoso, Don Braden.



For over 50 years the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band (283rd Army Band) has been inspiring and uplifting civilians crowds and service men and women. Coming to us from Fort Benning, the members of this amazing band accomplishes over 400 missions annually, supporting military and civilian communities across Georgia. The band delivers a wide variety of music, incorporating traditional New Orleans jazz, American country, rock, rhythm and blues, and funk. Carrying on the tradition of jazz, founded by the left-over brass instruments of the Civil War, the U. S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Stage Band promises to lift our American spirits high!



Since 1915 The Parris Island Marine Coprs band has been providing award-winning entertainment for civilians and service members alike. Recipients of the Col. G. Howard Citation for Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands. Tenor saxophonist, Gunnery Sgt. Jason Knuckles has been a leader of the band for some time, and he has led the band through great performances all over the country. This is a truly inspiring act with members who serve our nation on the most dangerous fronts, yet deliver the greatest inspiration to all in the form of their most excellent jass music.