For 14 years, the Gulf Coast Ethnic & Heritage Festival has been bringing world-class jazz artists to the Azalea City. The festival has developed an impressive reputation for featuring locals such as Dennis “Finger Roll” Nelson, Joe Lewis and the late Lil Greenwood as well as national acts such as Art Sherrod and Shad Collins. Two local groups will be supporting a modern jazz superstar for this year’s festival.
Mobile’s Bay City Brass Band will open the festival. Tuba player Marcus Johnson brought this troop of local talent together in 1997. For almost two decades, this group has earned praise across the nation for their Mardi Gras-inspired jazz sounds.
Keep It Live will also be representing the Azalea City. Jarvis Wright (saxophone) and Jaron Snell (keyboard) maintain solid jazz melodies as bassist Lucas Young and drummer Mark Craig keep the rhythm. Keep It Live has been busy touring with Lebrado and Jeff Floyd.
Jason Marsalis will be the festival’s headliner. This youngest sibling of the legendary Marsalis Family will feature “The Celebration of Lionel Hampton.” This multi-instrumentalist will take the mallets across the xylophone in tribute to this legendary jazz figure.
Gulf Coast Ethnic & Heritage Jazz Festival
Date: Saturday, Aug. 2, 4 p.m.
Venue: The Temple Downtown, 351 St. Francis St., www.templemobile.com