The Betsy to Host the 10th Annual OVERTURE TO OVERTOWN JAZZ FESTIVAL
The Betsy (thebetsyhotel.com), a luxury family-run Miami Beach hotel known internationally as a hub of arts, culture and community, announces its 10th annual Overture to Overtown (OTO) Jazz Festival, in the honor of National Jazz Appreciation Month (“JAM”) from April 1 to April 30, 2022 in Miami Beach. Proud to join other national jazz presenters, the hotel’s month-long program, co-produced with Carole Ann Taylor, will feature more than 40 live performances, hosted community conversations, curated outdoor exhibits and the Sounds of FREEDOM exhibition.
Performances will take place inside the Betsy and on Ocean Drive between 14th Street and 14th Place. The Festival’s tribute to “JAM” will culminate on April 30 (International Jazz Day) with a solo performance by pianist Danny Mixon. An outdoor concert with the Danny Mixon Trio will follow on May 1.
Jazz Appreciation Month (“JAM”) was established 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 United Nations 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 the four corners of the globe.
Betsy’s ongoing jazz program and the 10th annual OTO festival celebrate the historic ties between South Florida jazz and the historic National Jazz Circuit that has brought musicians who have played in Harlem to New York to The Harlem of the South (AKA Overtown) as they headed from club to club – across the United States. ‘Back in the heyday of Overtown – and in Miami Beach – stars like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker and many more performed the same jazz standards that will be performed live at the 10th annual The Betsy. Opening of the Overtown Festival. Overtown has also been home to the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, and Mohamed Ali.
Celebrations like this provide vital teaching moments by shining a light on the government-sanctioned racial segregation that for decades kept black musicians from being in Miami Beach after dark, necessitating a back to “Overtown”. Overtown’s story is one of great resilience in the face of discrimination. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said when speaking of the importance of jazz, in 1964 at the opening of the Berlin Jazz Festival, “Jazz speaks for life. The blues tells the story of the difficulties of life, and if you think for a moment you will realize that they take the harshest realities of life and set them to music, only to come out with new hope or a sense of triumph. is triumphant music… and now it’s imported into the world.
Jonathan Plutzik, the current owner of the Betsy Hotel and brother of Festival founder and producer Dr. Deborah Plutzik Briggs, had this to say. “As we anticipate The Betsy’s 10th Annual Overture to Overtown Festival, it is gratifying that The Betsy is known as a home for jazz in South Florida. Yet our dedication to arts and culture is just one part of a wheel that turns in the name of building community, encouraging public discourse, and promoting individual opportunity.
Forty stellar jazz activations in the Betsy Lobby Salon are the centerpiece of Betsy’s 10th Annual Overtown Opening, featuring pianists Danny Mixon, Jim Gasior, Edgar Pantoja, Tal Cohen, Leonard Reina, Brian Murphy, Ryan Ellis David Atelan, Beau Cornelius, Markus Gottschlich, Marc Irwin and Konrad Paszkudzki, Trenton Klaz and Allen Paul. Voice 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 former jazz pianist Danny Mixon from 8-10 p.m. in the Betsy’s Lobby Lounge; a public encore concert featuring the Danny Mixon Trio with singer Carole Ann Taylor will take place outside the Betsy Hotel on May 1 in partnership with the Ocean Drive Association and the City of Miami Beach.
Danny Mixon’s May Day 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 Concert Series Drive Drive. Here is the program of 5 concerts, all free, open to the public.
April 3 – Jim Gasior Jazz Trio with LeNard Rutledge, vocals
April 10 – Edgar Pantoja Latin Jazz Trio, with Magela Herera, voice and flute
April 17 – Nicole Yarling (violin and voice) Quartet with Tal Cohen, Piano
April 24 – Melton Mustafa Jr. (saxophone) Jazz Trio with a very special guest, Nicole Henry, Vocals
May 1 – Danny Mixon Trio with Carole Ann Taylor, vocals
Highlighting The Betsy’s commitment to jazz and the visual arts, during National Jazz Appreciation Month: The Betsy will also feature an exhibit by Leonor Anthony titled SOUNDS OF FREEDOM. The exhibition celebrates Anthony’s collaboration with photographer Roberto Pollilo by focusing on the transcendent nature of jazz and how it represents the hope of all free people. Images from this show, Miami-area artists, and black historical 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 Overtown panel discussions under the auspices of Diaspora Vibe’s Black Talks programs.
Organizational/community partners of the 10th Annual OTO Festival include WDNA Jazz Radio, Florida International University Miami Beach Urban Studios, Black Archive History and Lyric Theatre, 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 in progress as of February 20, 2022.
ABOUT THE BETSY HOTEL – The Betsy Hotel is a family-friendly luxury hotel located at the quiet end of Miami Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive. A beachfront gem honored by Travel + Leisure as one of the best hotels in the world, the Betsy’s exquisitely designed indoor and outdoor spaces host rotating art and photography exhibitions in nine public galleries, from jazz to live nine times a week, an artist residency program, classical music pop-ups, a large library and in-room book collections. Special design touches include a rooftop pool with 360-degree views suspended in the air, an orb-shaped flyover (hailed as a groundbreaking piece of Miami Beach public art), a sculptural Poetry Rail honoring blacksmiths 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 its 10th anniversary 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