Grammy-nominated pianist Jim McNeely headlines this weekends Lakeland Jazz Festival. Its the 35th-annual outing of the local favorite, and McNeely says hes 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. Its something to see how its changed.
Todays lineup includes performances by 16 high school bands -- including Shaker Heights, Bedford, and Brooklyn. Its capped with a concert featuring the Lakeland Civic Jazz Orchestra. Tomorrows schedule includes combos from St. Ignatius and Cuyahoga Falls high schools. McNeelys trio wraps things up with an 8 p.m. concert of jazz standards like Dizzy Gillespies Con Alma and a reworked Body & Soul. When I arrange a tune, its 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.