The popular event returns with a big day of music May 29 after a three-year hiatus.
- by Lisa Monti
The free event, first held in 1999, was sidetracked for several years by Katrina and more recently by Covid, so its return after three years is even more welcome to residents and others who appreciate jazz and the blend of blues and jazz the Pass is known for.
The beautiful park setting, with shade provided by the large oaks and cooling breezes off the Gulf, make for a comfortable and relaxing venue. You may bring your chairs and blankets, but organizers caution you to leave the glass containers at home. Food and drink will be sold during the event, and vendors will offer a variety of crafts.
Event chairman Joe Piernas said, “I am looking forward to a great day of good music, food and crafts, and a great day for people getting back together underneath the oak trees in the park.”
If you’re not familiar with the rich musical heritage of Pass Christian, look no further than the Mississippi Blues Trail marker erected in the city for a quick lesson. The marker reads:
BLUES & JAZZ IN THE PASS – The histories of blues and jazz are often traced along separate pathways, but, especially on the Gulf Coast, the two genres were intertwined from their earliest days. Blues was a key element in the music of Pass Christian’s illustrious native son, Captain John Handy (1900-1971), and other locals who played traditional jazz or rhythm & blues. Pass Christian has celebrated its rich African-American musical heritage with various festivals, including “Jazz In The Pass,” first held here in 1999.
Captain Handy was an internationally known alto sax player who performed, composed and recorded jazz through a long and storied career.
He led his band, the Louisiana Shakers, for decades, toured Europe and the Far East, and is credited as an innovator in rhythm and blues. Handy’s final performance was in 1970, when he shared top billing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with Mahalia Jackson.
After his death in his Pass Christian home, Handy was honored with a pair of traditional jazz funerals, one in New Orleans and another in his hometown, where he is buried in Live Oak Cemetery. It was reported that some 4,000 mourners came to say their goodbyes to the legendary musician.
Fittingly, one of the performers at Jazz in the Pass 2022 is Julius Handy III, great nephew of Captain Handy.
Here is the musical lineup for the day:
Noon – 1:45 pm: Insight Movement
St. Stanislaus band members play jazz and blues
2:00 – 3:45 pm: Julius Handy III
Handy plays in two New Orleans jazz bands and is making his debut at his great uncle’s namesake event.
4:00 – 5:45 pm: Da Real Band
Gulfport musicians play a mix of jazz and R&B
6:00 – 8:00 pm: Starz
This popular R&B band started performing together in high school and 20 years later have fans all over South Mississippi.
Jazz in the Pass
Sunday, May 29 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Noon – 8:00 pm
War Memorial Park
101 Flietas Ave., Pass Christian
For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.
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