The word "jazz" calls to mind aural showcases of improvisation, spontaneity, and trombones used for something other than sadly underscoring one's personal failures. Revel in an American art form with today’s Groupon: for $10, you get two tickets (a $23 value) to the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition at The Florida Theatre on Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
For more than 20 years, local music lovers have gathered to kick off the Jacksonville Jazz Festival by watching piano prodigies tickle the ivories until they’re piled in breathless, side-clutching stitches. Out of a pool of contenders feasibly as large as 6 billion people, a blind-judging process is currently selecting the five best to duke it out on the stage of The Florida Theatre for top bragging rights, as well as a cash prize, a signed copy of Thelonius Monk's almost-new keytar, and a primo performance slot at the festival over the weekend. A pro-level rhythm section anchors each pianist in time and space with a danceable beat.
Each virtuosic ebony-and-ivory mash-up is amplified by The Florida Theatre’s cavernous auditorium and topped with a historic flourish from its corniced décor. Opened in 1927 as Jacksonville’s premier movie palace, the theater was restored for live performances and community enrichment once it was clear how much people hated movies.