Savannah Jazz Festival: Eight great reasons to be there

Jazz and Savannah have a lot in common -- both are steeped in traditions with elements that have been carefully preserved while others are still evolving. The Savannah Jazz Festival has experienced a little evolution of its own since its inception in 1983.

A sweeping lineup of musical acts, jam sessions and more will punctuate Savannah's sultry evenings from Sept. 19 through Sept. 26. Here are eight great reasons to attend.

1. It's budget-friendly. In fact, the Savannah Jazz Festival is one of the nation's few jazz fests that is free to the public, but bring cash for food and beverages.

2. Hear a music legend. Instrumental pop/jazz artists Spyro Gyra will take the stage in Forsyth Park on Sept. 25 as the headline act. The concert begins with a picnic at 3 p.m.

3. Chase your jazz with a little blues. Also included in this year's lineup will be Savannah-based blues favorites Georgia Kyle, Eric Culberson and Joe Louis Walker. Their show, "Blues on the Green Night," kicks off at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at Forsyth Park.

4. Take in a movie. The documentary "Martino Unstrung" chronicles the life of guitarist Pat Martino, whose memory was erased following brain surgery. 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the DoubleTree Hotel, 411 West Bay St. 912-790-7000,

5. Remember a jazz great. Lowcountry jazz expert Bob Masteller will pay tribute to the late, great Louis Armstrong at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Blowin' Smoke restaurant and club. Titled "Smokin' Jazz," the event will also feature the JodyJazz Quintet. Blowin' Smoke, 514 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 912-231-2385,

6. Jam with the band. Break free from audience and demonstrate your musical passion at jam sessions slated throughout the week Sept. 23-25 at Blowin' Smoke following the evening concerts. The Savannah Jazz Festival will also kick off with a jazz jam session at 5 p.m. Sept. 19 at the DoubleTree Hotel.

7. Enjoy Forsyth Park. A Savannah landmark, Forsyth Park is a 30-acre public green space that offers a venue for daily recreation while also serving as the heartbeat for many cultural events. In February, a full-service cafe that doubles as a visitor's center opened in a restored fort on the grounds. The Forsyth Park Cafe will offer extended hours during the Savannah Jazz Festival. 621 Drayton St. 912-233-7848

8. Kids can get jazzy, too. The Children's Jazz Festival will begin at 4 p.m. Sept. 26 in Forsyth Park. The CJA All-Stars and the Savannah Arts Academy Skyelite Jazz Band perform.

-- Provided by Demand Studio.

Savannah Jazz Festival

Sept. 19-26. Free admission to all venues.