All That Jazz

Music fest celebrates 35 years of great sax.

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Grammy-nominated pianist Jim McNeely headlines this weekend’s Lakeland Jazz Festival. It’s the 35th-annual outing of the local favorite, and McNeely says he’s looking forward to it. “I was playing downtown Cleveland in the early ’70s, and it was pretty funky and depressing,” recalls McNeely, a Chicago native who now lives in New York. “It’s something to see how it’s changed.”

Today’s lineup includes performances by 16 high school bands -- including Shaker Heights, Bedford, and Brooklyn. It’s capped with a concert featuring the Lakeland Civic Jazz Orchestra. Tomorrow’s schedule includes combos from St. Ignatius and Cuyahoga Falls high schools. McNeely’s trio wraps things up with an 8 p.m. concert of jazz standards like Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” and a reworked “Body & Soul.” “When I arrange a tune, it’s like your favorite lady wearing a different dress for the evening,” says McNeely. “Sometimes, it turns out to be a bunch of rags. But your goal is to [make it] better.”
Feb. 23-24, 8:30 a.m.

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