I’ve been going to Clearwater Jazz Holiday for so long that I can remember back when it was free and you could pack yourself a picnic dinner. Now the event costs $25 at the door, or $15 a day in advance, and coolers or picnic baskets aren’t allowed. Despite the increased cost, the crowd is larger than ever this year, drawn by bigger names and less jazz. But don’t get me wrong – there will be jazz. Today’s jazz act was Gloria West & the Gents of Tampa Bay, FL, playing what they like to call “jazz for the masses.” This basically means jazzed-up popular songs that everyone knows and loves with some originals thrown in. It’s good stuff. The set list included covers of Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray, Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones, Skyfall by Adele, and a song by Mildred Bailey, a.k.a. Mrs. Swing.
The sun went down, and a ban on photography was issued immediately before Gladys Knight hit the stage. Gladys Knight’s performance was, of course, epic. I don’t have any photos to show you, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Her new single, Just a Little, is available through iTunes.