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Charleston Jazz Club presents Fifth Annual Charleston Jazz Jam 'Time to Swing on King'
10/7/2014 2:16:03 PM

A showcase of some of Charleston’s best jazz musicians will perform during the Fifth Annual Charleston Jazz Jam – Time to Swing on King – Sunday, Oct. 26, at Prohibition Charleston at 547 King St. in the heart of the city’s entertainment district.

Organized by the Charleston Jazz Club, the 5 p.m. jazz jam is an unscripted, unrehearsed four-hour music event that is free to the public. Charleston’s longest running jazz jam will feature musical performances reminiscent of the jazz age at its height.

Joe Clarke, founder of the Joe Clarke Big Band, will lead this year’s event as emcee and host. Wayne Mitchum, another well known musician on the Charleston jazz scene, will lay down the bass track, percussionist Ron Nihoff will set the tempo and as keyboardist Oscar Rivers Jr., one of Charleston’s true jazz legends, anchors the session.

Considered one of the city’s favorite female vocalists, Bobbie Storm is currently working with the Kings of Jazz and her own quartet the Bobbie Storm Jazz Group. For this session, she has invited two new talents, local guitarist Bryan Motte and Virginia bred percussionist Adam Ray, to sit in with her. “You won’t be disappointed,” she says with her indomitable smile.

Brazilian jazz guitarist Duda Lucena returns for a third year setting the stage for a set to include his own sensual and distinctive Latin style. Many of Charleston’s best known veteran musicians including George Kenny, Steve Simon and vocalist Bobby Alvarez are expected to step on stage.

“This is just the beginning of the line up,” said Dennis Fassuliotis, Charleston Jazz Club founder and event coordinator. “We never know who may show up.”

Joe Clarke also teaches jazz piano theory at Charleston County School of the Arts. Each year, in the true spirit of the jam, Charleston Jazz Club invites budding jazz talent from his classroom to perform, bringing young players together for the first time with Charleston’s top jazz musicians.

It is no paradox that this marks the first year the Charleston Jazz Jam will be held in downtown Charleston. “The Charleston Jazz Jam was always destined for downtown, but we began, organically, under the oaks at Awendaw Green,” Fassuliotis said. “And like everything good in the Lowcountry, we were nurtured in the tidal marshes and creeks at Bowens Island then grew up and graduated to a tony Mount Pleasant night club setting and last year brought the crowds of jazz enthusiasts back to the beach as the event has crisscrossed the peninsular over the last four years.”

“One of our goals,” he said, “is to bring together artists and try to reignite the excitement for jazz in our local communities. Last year, we moved the Charleston Jazz Jam out to Folly Beach. And I am pleased to say that Folly Beach is swinging once again. We wish the nascent Folly Beach Jazz Festival much success and encourage the community to support new ventures that want to promote jazz in the area.”

For this year’s event we head into the heart of the downtown entertainment district and one of Charleston’s best known, new nightclubs benefiting from the rising popularity of jazz in the Holy City and a destination for jazz lovers throughout the region. “Prohibition Charleston is the place and the perfect location. Jazz could never have developed without the nightclub,” Fassuliotis said. “And Prohibition Charleston is suggestive of the nightclubs that were the incubators for most of what we know today of the greats of jazz. This is the perfect place for this milestone event.”

Owner and manager of the popular upper King Street club, James Walsh, said, “We are pleased to host this event downtown for the first time. We want Charleston to see who we are, what a great place our establishment is and that we are one of the foremost venues for jazz in the city. This town has a rich jazz history. We are here to help tell the story and be a cornerstone for a new era.”

Reminiscing on the last four years, Fassuliotis said, “My favorite story is the first year at the end of the night a young lady showed up and asked me if she could sing. I said I don’t know if you can, but if you know the music your welcome to join us. That is how I met a future sixth-place American Idol finisher Elise Testone. She closed the show and brought the house down! She has an open invitation every year, if she is in town.”

Fassuliotis founded the Charleston Jazz Club ( in 2009 to promote jazz in the Charleston area and bring musicians and jazz enthusiasts together for the first time using a social networking site and considers itself the only virtual jazz club in the world. “Where we go the music follows,” he said. Although there is no admission fee, donations and contributions are welcomed.”

Well known artist and illustrator Tate Nation has produced a new graphic for this year’s event. It is whimsically reminiscent of the small club and tonks where black musicians and white musicians met sometimes for the first time in the hinterlands of a city with a big jazz story just beginning to be told and chronicled properly.

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