Jazz Legend Dick Hyman Leads 2017 Sarasota Jazz Festival

The Venice-based pianist will both perform and be honored during the festival, as he celebrates his 90th birthday.

By Kay Kipling February 28, 2017

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Pianist Dick Hyman

Image: Carol LoRicco 

For most 90-year-olds, just attending a jazz festival and enjoying the music would be enough. Not so for local legend Dick Hyman, a Venice resident and 2017 NEA Jazz Master, who will be both honoree and musical director at the 37th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, kicking off March 5 and continuing through March 11. Hyman will also, by the way, turn 90 during the festival.

Hyman’s connection with the jazz festival is a long one. He moved to the area from New York City decades ago at least partly because of the then-young Jazz Club of Sarasota, and he has played a major role in practically ever fest since. His career, which began in the 1950s, has included playing with just about every performer you can imagine, recording more than 100 albums in his own name and perhaps as many as 1,000 others with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis and Andre Kostelanetz. He was also orchestrator for the hit Broadway musical Sugar Babies and composer/arranger/conductor for a host of Woody Allen films, including Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, Radio Days, Bullets Over Broadway and more. Hyman also served as artistic director for the famed Jazz in July series at New York’s 92nd Street Y for 20 years. (For more about Hyman’s long and storied career, click here ).

This year’s jazz fest begins with a free Jazz in the Park concert featuring high school, college and professional bands on March 5 at Phillippi Estate Park. That’s followed by a concert Tuesday, March 7, in the Riverview Performing Arts Center, a “Musical Biography of the Legendary Dick Hyman” that he himself refers to as “wallowing in nostalgia.” Longtime director for jazz for WUSF 89.7 Bob Seymour hosts the evening, accompanies by some of Hyman’s favorite musicians and touching on highlights of his years as a professional. Among the musicians on hand: pianist Bill Charlap, singer Clairdee, drummer Mark Feinman, bassist John Lamb, guitarist Russell Malone, sax man Houston Person and trumpeter Randy Sandke.

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Singer Clairdee

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Saxophonist Houston Person

Image: Gene Martin

The next night features the popular Jazz Trolley & Pub Crawl, and Thursday, March 9, offers a new event, a New York Jazz Evening with Hyman and Ken Peplowski that includes dinner at Michael’s On East. A free talk and book signing by Alfred Green (son of rhythm guitarist Freddie Green) takes place March 10 at Selby Library, and the fest closes on Saturday, March 11, with a “Salute to Jazz History” concert featuring Hyman, the Jim Cullum Jazz Band and pianist John Sheridan, at the Riverview PAC.

For full information on ticket prices, venues and more, call (941) 366-1552 or go to


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