With the economy, and especially the troubles of the presenting sponsor Chrysler, taking their toll, the
Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival is on hiatus.
The festival started its run in 2000 and ran for eight years in International Park in East Toledo, before
moving across the river to a downtown site last year.
Ironically this suspension comes in the centennial year of the birth of the legendary jazz pianist Art
Tatum, the Toledo native whose name the festival celebrated.
The folks at Murphy’s Place on Water Street in Toledo are stepping into the breach, and on the weekend
when the festival traditionally would have been held is hosting a jazz party Friday and Saturday.
The festival will feature a mix of local and regional talent. The Saturday night headliner is Ernie
Krivda, a tenor saxophonist from Cleveland. Though Krivda now generally sticks close to home, he
possesses one of the most powerful sounds in jazz. The online journal One Final Note said of him:
"Ernie Krivda is a tenor-wielding monster who stalks the southern shore of Lake Erie. He brandishes
one of the most distinctive sounds in music."
Comics pioneer and jazz aficionado Harvey Pekar called him "one of the best tenor saxmen in the
On Friday night, up-and-coming trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, who has also performed in Krivda’s band,
Fitting given Tatum’s upcoming birthday, pianist and vocalist Johnny O’Neal who portrayed the jazz legend
in the Hollywood biopic "Ray" will perform on Saturday.
Another Toledo favorite son Jon Hendricks is set to serve as master of ceremonies.
The jazz party represents a return to the roots for Toledo’s summer jazz event. Flush with Chrysler’s
money the jazz festival started booking national jazz pop acts Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau and George
Benson. These drew throngs, but usually only a few minutes before the big name hit, and then quickly
made an exit, even if someone else was schedule for a late set.
The jazz party has its roots firmly in the region’s rich jazz scene, featuring figures from Toledo and
This is not the first time Murphy’s has stepped up. Back in 1999 it also hosted
jazz party in the interim between the end of an earlier version of the Toledo Jazz Festival and the Tatum
Jazz Heritage Festival. That was a packed, swinging event.
The format this year is similar with stages both inside and outside of the club and jam sessions
concluding each night’s program.
Given the economy, it’s impossible to know what this will lead to, so jazz fans will just have to enjoy
it while it lasts.
Scheduled to perform are:
¥ Friday inside – 6 p.m. University of Toledo Summer Jazz Institute featuring students and faculty
members including saxophonist Gunnar Mossblad, the director, guitarist Vic Juris and vocalist Stephanie
Nakasian; 9:30 p.m. Theresa Harris; 10 p.m., Farinacci; and 11 p.m. a jam session.
¥ Friday outside – 5 p.m. Eric Brazier; 5:30 p.m. Paul Keller Jazz Gospel Trio; 6:30 p.m. Farinacci; 7:30
Lori Lefevre and John Johnson; 8:30 p.m. Kelly Broadway; and 9:30 p.m. Sixth Edition.
¥ Saturday inside – 2 p.m. Kalvin Hughes Trio; 3 p.m. Mike Whitty Quartet; 4 p.m. Glenda McFarlin;
5 p.m. Jim Gottron and Clifford Murphy; 5:15 p.m. Ryan Erard; 6 p.m. Kim Buehler; 7 p.m. O’Neal tribute
to Art Tatum; 8 p.m. Ramona Collins; 9 p.m. Joan Crawford; and 10 p.m. jam session led by Johnny O’Neal.
¥ Saturday outside –
University of Toledo; 3:30 p.m. Toledo School for the Arts; 4:15 p.m. Glenn Tucker Trio; 5:15 p.m. Keith
Bernard and the Modern Jazz Messengers with Anna Givens; 6:15 p.m. Ernie Krivda; 7:15 p.m. Damen Cook
Quartet; 8:30 – Johnny O’Neal Shouts the Blues; and 10 p.m. Krivda.
Given previous experience those attending should be prepared for the unexpected. This is jazz after all.