Hmmm. There's no other way than to just come out with it: I find this to be the least attractive lineup in the history of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Of course, that's just me (and surely a lot of other jazz diehards). Fans of the smooth/crossover stuff will get their fill during the four-day event with sets by Brian Culbertson and Eric Darius, Boney James (stifle gag reflex), Nestor Torres, Sakesho (with steel pan player Andy Narell), Les Sabler and Citiheat, and Liquid Soul. One of the very early crossover jazzers will be on hand as well: pianist Ramsey Lewis. The flashy trio of bassist Stanley Clarke, banjoist Bela Fleck and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty will bring the busy fusion thing.
So what's on hand for the true jazz fan? Not much. Closing the fest on Sunday night (8:15 p.m.) will be trumpeter Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra — 21-strong, according to its website. This could be a solid show with a Big Easy flavor. Continuing in that vein, Kermit Ruffins (Sun., 2:45 p.m.) is a traditionalist trumpeter and Louis Armstrong acolyte — not exactly groundbreaking, but perhaps interesting. Fred Johnson (Thurs., 6:30 p.m.), while he doesn't perform locally that much anymore, can be counted on to get up for the gig and deliver a stirring set. That's about it. The blues angle will be covered by blustery Koko Taylor (Sat., 7 p.m.).
Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Thurs.-Sun., Oct. 13-16. Free. For the complete lineup and other details, go to www.clearwaterjazz.com.