July 26, 2021

Although it is hard to believe, the Jazz has experienced everything in South Florida

Believe it or not, the Jazz have experienced it all in South Florida. Crisis, abandonment and resurgence. The city of the Sun was not host to Jazz like other cities in the United States, New Orleans and New York, sHowever, it was home to great jazz musical talents.

(My trip down the jazz roads accompanied by local musicians in South Florida).

For 8 years the Lobby of the Betsy Hotel has hosted the Jazz Live Music Series. (Here with Vocalist Nanami Morikawa)

For a long time there were no options to have a good time without so much rigor. Sit on a sofa and listen to a download of music in a casual setting. We just wanted to relax and listen to an original voice and good sounding music.

If you opened a jazz club it wouldn’t last long like Van Dyke Café on Lincoln Road in the 90’s which despite pioneering the revitalization of South Beach had to close when the street became a luxury mall.

With talented bassist Jamie Ousley on Soika

In its new rebirth, Jazz has created a relaxing atmosphere in once marginal and decadent places where a generation of talented and egoless young musicians improvise and mix musical rhythms.

In Little Havana, Latin jazz found its home in Ball & Chain and High Note at Cuba Ocho. In South Beach he did it in the lobby of the Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive at the Jazz Series.

In the Miami Downtown opened The black Cat, a very French club treasure where jazz rhythms shake a dimly lit cellar on a lonely street.


Vocalist Nanami Morikawa during a concert at Le Chat Noir club

North of Downtown on a corner of North Miami Avenue is The Corner, an intimate bar with tables in a colonnaded corridor. It is a bohemian place with an air of the 40’s and 50’s from the time of the boppers when Jazz vocalists like the rebellious Anita O’Day, the Jezebel of Jazz came to sing to Miami and Miami Beach.


The Corner, the trendy bar

miami jazz

Rodolfo Zuniga during a concert on the radio station WDNA 88. 9 FM. Drummer and musical director, he is a phenomenon.

Very close to there on NW Second Avenue is the historic Over Town, an African-American neighborhood where Jazz boomed from the 30’s to the 60’s. Those places no longer exist, but there are still people who after 60 years sigh for the loss of the valuable music scene that included some clubs where artists of African descent such as Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgeral sang and where Ray Charles recorded his first album.

In the book “Florida Soul from Ray Charles and KC from the Sunshine Band” appears this photo of a radio station in Over town in the 50’s when this neighborhood was a Mecca of Music.

Miami Downtown Jazz Festival en el Bayfront Park Amphitheater

In the pain caused by racial segregation and in the desire of musicians to express their feelings as they could, Jazz was influenced by other rhythms as a necessity of life.

Latin Jazz was born with the coming and going of musicians from the Caribbean and Cuba who brought Afro-Cuban rhythms to New York, such as the trumpeter Mario Bauza or Chano Pozo, a young Cuban musician who in the 40’s became the drummer of the American trumpeter Dizzi Gillespie and together they wrote the first Latin Jazz compositions.

Ball & Chain – Rodolfo Zuniga Surfaces, jazz night with FAMA Magazine and Tribute to Dr. Paul George.

At that time, the Apollo Theater in Harlem was the Mecca of the first modern Jazz style “bebop” and Dizzi Gillespie along with Charles Parker its symbol. In New York there were the recording studios, while in South Florida the authorities closed the theaters and nightclubs of Miami Downtown and Biscayne Boulevard destroyed by gambling and illicit businesses.

miami jazz

Concert in a Music Hall at the FIU

New times, new paths for Jazz – many of the most famous jazz musicians, those who are gone and the legends studied music at Miami Universities like the trumpeters Pete Minger or like the saxophonist Ed Calle who has worked with Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and since 2001 he has been a music professor at Miami Dade College.

Many of the most sought-after artists on the local scene have come to study music master’s degrees at universities, such as the Argentine vocalist and singer-songwriter Roxana Amed who came to study music and is now one of the most sought after on the local scene.

Japanese singer-songwriter and vocalist Nanami Morikawa decided to come to study music at the University of Florida. Her husband, the American bassist from Miami, Jamie Ousley, met her on one of his tours. Although Jamie has stepped on big stages, he feels enormous satisfaction when he gives concerts in Jazz clubs in Miami.

Jamie Ousley, drummer Rodolfo Zuniga and saxophonist Mark Small all work as music teachers by day and liven up Miami’s live music scene by night. .

It is not as popular as rock and pop but step by step Jazz festivals are creating new audiences.

Jazz festivals are held in South Florida all year round, but Miami Downtown Jazz Festival has a special mission, to revitalize the decadent scene of Downtown Miami.

The three-day multi-stage festival presented by WDNA 88. 9 FM, a public radio station dedicated to promoting jazz brought Jazz legends to Downtown Miami: organ master Dr Lonnie Smith, famed vocalist Kurt Elling, trumpet icon Arturo Sandoval, and violinist Regina Carter, Leon Foster Thomas, Tito Puente Jr. All shared the stage with the most sought after local jazz artists.

List of places to listen to Jazz live

  • Ball of Chain Y Cuba Eight in Little Havana: Latin Jazz
  • Wynwood Yard: An open-air garden under the stars frequented by the younger generations of age and spirit.
  • Lagniappe: This place is a New Orleans-style wine house
  • Betsy Lobby : South Beach
  • Soika Restaurant: Fridays and Saturdays –
  • The black Cat: Downtown Miami
  • The Corner: Downtown Miami – Jazz on Tuesdays
  • Churchill Pub: Jazz todos los lunes – Little Haiti/ Midtown/ Wynwood/ Design District
  • Soya Tomato: Miami Downtown
  • Peacock Garden Café: Coconut Grove
  • Perricone Marketplace and Café: Brickell
  • The Globe: Coral Gables
  • Olympia Theater Jazz in the Lobby Lounge: Downtown Miami (the third Wednesday of every month).

Jazz Encounters

WDNA 88.9FM Jazz Gallery: Jazz Encounters is a live concert program offered by South Florida’s only radio station to promote primetime jazz, Latin jazz, and international beat music. (2921 Coral Way).

Miami Dade College Jazz Serie en Wolfson Miami Downtown: This series was created by Professor Dr. Michael Di Liddo so that Jazz students could have an experience beyond classes with musicians with established careers and experience on stage.

Olympia Theater Jazz in the Lobby Lounge: Downtown Miami (the third Wednesday of every month).

For 12 years, the city of Miami Garden has held the Jazz in the Garden Music Festival.