Best Local Jazz Artist (1999)

Ira Sullivan

Sullivan is the best jazz artist in South Florida. No, you won't find him performing regularly in the area's so-called "jazz" rooms, nor will you be overly impressed with his recent recordings. Ira is not the best for what he's currently doing, he is the best because he is the very embodiment of jazz, that strangely dichotomous ethic that values ancient traditions while simultaneously ripping them apart. As adept on reeds as he is on brass, this trumpeter-saxophonist was at one time slated to join Charlie Parker's band, but Bird passed on before Ira could join him on the stand. This rarefied connection continued in Ira's long-time partnership with Parker sideman Red Rodney. Sullivan's greatest contribution to the South Florida jazz scene has been his overall influence on the region's best contemporary players. In the late '60s and throughout the '70s, Ira led groundbreaking ensembles featuring such young turks as Jaco Pastorius and was by all accounts a strict taskmaster who inculcated them with the true essence of jazz. Those he mentored are our best players today, and they claim Ira is the best.


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