The Betsy’s 10th Annual Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival Celebrates April Jazz Appreciation Month
Photo credit: The Betsy Hotel
From April 1 – May 1, 2022 The Betsy Hotel Hosts
40 Live Performances, Curated Community Conversations & Exhibitions
The Betsy (thebetsyhotel.com), a luxury family-owned and operated hotel on Miami Beach known internationally as a hub for arts, culture, and community, announces its 10th Annual Overture to Overtown (OTO) Jazz Festival, in celebration of National Jazz Appreciation Month (“JAM”) from April 1- April 30, 2022 on Miami Beach. Proud to be joining with other national jazz presenters, the hotel's month-long program co-produced with Carole Ann Taylor, will include over 40 live performances, curated community conversations, curated outdoor exhibits, and the exhibition, Sounds of FREEDOM.
Performances will take place inside the Betsy and on the Ocean Drive Promenade, between 14th street and 14th Place. The Festival’s homage to “JAM” will culminate on April 30 (International Jazz Day) with a solo performance by pianist Danny Mixon. An encore outdoor concert featuring the Danny Mixon Trio follows on May 1. @thebetsyhotel
Jazz Appreciation Month (“JAM”) was created in 2001 at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz. In November 2011, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role in uniting people in all corners of the globe. #jazzday
The Betsy’s ongoing jazz program and 10th Annual OTO Festival celebrates the historic connections between South Florida jazz and the National historic jazz circuit which brought musicians who played in New York City’s Harlem to The Harlem of the South (AKA Overtown) as they made their way from club to club – across the USA. ‘Back in Overtown’s heyday — and on Miami Beach — stars like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, and many others, performed the same jazz standards that will be performed live at The Betsy’s 10th Annual Overture to Overtown Festival. Overtown also hosted such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, and Mohamed Ali. #jazzatthebetsy
Celebrations like this provide essential teaching moments by shining light on the government-sanctioned racial segregation that, for decades, prevented Black musicians from being on Miami Beach after dark, necessitating a return to ‘Over-town’. The story of Overtown is one of great resilience in the face of discrimination. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said when speaking about the importance of Jazz, in 1964 at the opening of the Berlin Jazz Festival, "Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music. … and now it is imported to the world."
Jonathan Plutzik, the current owner of The Betsy Hotel and brother of the Festival’s founder and producer Dr. Deborah Plutzik Briggs, had this to say. ‘As we anticipate The Betsy’s 10th Annual Overture to Overtown Festival, it’s gratifying that The Betsy is known as a home for Jazz in South Florida. Yet our dedication to the arts and culture is only one spoke of a wheel that turns on behalf of building community, encouraging public discourse, and promoting individual opportunity.’
Forty stellar jazz activations in The Betsy Lobby Salon are the centerpiece of The Betsy’s 10th Annual Overture to Overtown, featuring pianists Danny Mixon, Jim Gasior, Edgar Pantoja, Tal Cohen, Leonard Reina, Brian Murphy, Ryan Ellis David Attelan, Beau Cornelius, Markus Gottschlich, Marc Irwin, and Konrad Paszkudzki, Trenton Klaz, and Allen Paul. Vocal collaborators include LeNard Rutledge, Carole Ann Taylor, Cindy Ellis, Magela Herera, Nicole Hentry, and Nicole Yarling. Instrumentalists include Tom Lippincott (guitar), Melton Mustafa, jr. (sax), Nicole Yarling (violin), Chad Bernstein (trombone), Magela Herera (flute), Ruben Hoch (drums), and Gary Thomas (Bass). Students from the Jazz Education Community Coalition, led by Nicole Yarling, will also perform.
International Jazz Day (April 30) will be celebrated with an appearance by legacy jazz pianist Danny Mixon from 8 to 10 PM in The Betsy’s Lobby Salon; an encore public concert featuring The Danny Mixon Trio with vocalist Carole Ann Taylor will take place stage outside in front of The Betsy Hotel on May 1 in partnership with the Ocean Drive Association and the City of Miami Beach.
Danny Mixon’s May 1 concert culminates a series of 5 outdoor Jazz performances, presented as part of the 10th Annual OTO Festival in partnership with the City of Miami Beach and Ocean Drive Association as part of the Ocean Drive Promenade Concert Series. Here is the 5-concert lineup, all free of charge, open to the public.
April 3 – Jim Gasior Jazz Trio with LeNard Rutledge, Vocals
April 10 – Edgar Pantoja Latin Jazz Trio, with Magela Herera, Vocals and Flute
April 17 – Nicole Yarling (violin and voice) Quartet with Tal Cohen, Piano
April 24 – Melton Mustafa Jr. (saxophone) Jazz Trio with very special guest, Nicole Henry, Vocals
May 1- Danny Mixon Trio with Carole Ann Taylor, Vocals
Underscoring The Betsy’s commitment to jazz and the visual arts, during National Jazz Appreciation Month: The Betsy will also feature an exhibition by Leonor Anthony entitled, SOUNDS OF FREEDOM. The exhibition celebrates Anthony’s collaboration with photographer Roberto Pollilo focusing on the transcendent nature of jazz and how it represents the hope of all free people. Images from this show, from Miami-area artists, and from the Historic Black Archives will be curated by Rosie Gordon-Wallace and projected onto The Betsy Orb, a unique canvas for digital projection. Rosie Gordon-Wallace will also host a series of virtual panel discussions about Overtown under the auspices of Diaspora Vibe’s Black Talks programs. #thebetsyorb
Organizational/community partners for 10th Annual OTO Festival include WDNA Jazz Radio, Florida International University Miami Beach Urban Studios, Black Archive History and Lyric Theater, Florida Grand Opera, Miami Beach Classical Music Festival, Hued Songs, Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, Inspicio Arts @ FIU, the Greater Miami and the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ocean Drive Association, and the City of Miami Beach. Other partnerships are pending as of Feb 20, 2022 - @wdna @fiumbus @miamibeachnews @historiclyricmia @artsbizmiami @miamimusicfest @fgopera @dvcai @huedsongs @thebtsyhotel
The Advisory Board for the 10th Annual OTO Festival includes: Dr. Dorothy Fields, Founder and Board Chair, Black Archive History Lyric Theater; Ms. Connie Kinnard, VP Multicultural Tourism and Development, GMCVB; Lisette Arrongante, Director of Tourism and Culture, City of Miami Beach; Ms. Carole Ann Taylor, Founder and CEO, Miamitogo; Dr. Valerie Patterson, Director African and African Diaspora Studies, Florida International University; Mr. Howard Duperly, Director of Sales and Marketing, WDNA Jazz Radio; Ms. Rosie Gordon Wallace, Founder, Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator; Ms. Nina Gale Olson, Culture Worker and External Relations Consultant (NYC), Mr. Kunya Rowley, founder and director of Hued Songs; John Stuart, Distinguished Professor and Executive Director MANA and MBUS Campuses of Florida International University. The Committee chair is Dr. Deborah Plutzik Briggs, VP, Arts and Community at The Betsy, who created the Overture to Overtown Festival in 2011, and whose family owns The Betsy. Jazz vocalist Carole Ann Taylor, Founder and CEO of Miamitogo, is the OTO 2022 Community Co-producer.
ABOUT THE BETSY HOTEL - The Betsy Hotel is a family-owned and operated boutique luxury hotel anchoring the quiet end of iconic Ocean Drive in Miami Beach. A beachfront gem honored by Travel + Leisure as one of the best hotels in the world, The Betsy’s exquisitely designed inside and outside spaces play host to rotating art and photography exhibitions across nine public galleries, live jazz nine times a week, an artist residency program, classical music pop-ups, a large library, and curated in-room book collections. Special design touches include a rooftop pool with 360-degree views suspended in mid-air, an orb-shaped sky bridge (hailed as a groundbreaking piece of Miami Beach public art), a sculptural Poetry Rail honoring wordsmiths from Langston Hughes to Muhammad Ali, and special projects like TransArt and Escribe Aqui/Write Here that celebrate community through the arts. The Betsy’s Overture to Overtown Jazz Festival celebrates 10 years in April 2002. The Betsy Hotel, owned and operated by the Plutzik Goldwasser Family, is located at 1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, in the heart of the Art Deco District. www.thebetsyhotel.com
Photo credit: The Betsy Hotel