Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval performing on a Tribute to Tito Puente, part of a recent Jazz Roots series at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami. Photo courtesy Daniel Azoulay ©
A few years ago, discussing the beginnings of Jazz Roots, the jazz concert series at the Adrienne Arsht Center, in Miami, the late musician, producer, record label owner and entrepreneur Larry Rosen, a co-founder of the event, estimated that the opening season had “about 650 subscriptions — of which about 200 were from our neighbors in Fisher Island. And in most cases, it was not because they were great jazz fans. They just thought ‘These are our neighbors and we want to support them.’ That’s why they did it.” It was a modest beginning, especially for such a large hall, but Rosen was neither surprised nor intimidated.
He had moved to South Florida from New York in 2000 and in that conversation he shrugged as he noted how “anyone who’s in the jazz business knew that Miami was not a jazz market. […] I certainly knew what to expect. But you don’t really understand Miami unless you live here.”
Jazz remains a hard sell in South Florida. And yet, since its launching in 2008, Jazz Roots has not only found its audience but become one of the mainstays of Miami’s cultural landscape.
Jazz Roots opens its season on Friday with British Invasion – Latin Style, featuring singer and songwriter José Feliciano, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, pianist and arranger Shelly Berg, saxophonist Tim Ries, singers Lucy Woodward, Kate Reid, and Fantine and the University of Miami’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.
The series continues with concerts by Mavis Staples and Charlie Musselwhite; pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro- Latin Jazz Orchestra; singer Kurt Elling; pianist, arranger, and composer Dave Grusin (who co-founded with Rosen the all-digital GRP record label), and saxophonist Branford Marsalis.