At 3, Ira Sullivan learned to play trumpet from his father in his hometown of Washington, D.C. His mother taught him the saxophone.
By age 5, Sullivan played during services at his grandma’s church outside of Chicago. During his teenage years, he emerged onto the scene and became part of the jazz scene.
A world-class, multi-instrumentalist, Sullivan has performed all over and alongside the likes of jazz musicians Charlie “Bird” Parker, Johnny Griffin, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer, Red Garland, Wilbur Ware and Roy Haynes, among others. Sullivan has also played in the Keys several times before, and he’s set to make a visit back in Keys on April 25 for a concert presented by Islamorada Community Entertainement at 7 p.m. at the Keys Community Jewish Center, 93095 Overseas Highway. Tickets are $15.
World-class multi-instrumentalist Sullivan plays trumpet, flugelhorn, peck horn, tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones, flute, and an occasional round of drums — all of them impeccably, and not as a gimmick.
“It’s always enjoyable to come up to the Keys, especially if you stand in the water and see your feet at the bottom,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan became an integral part of the Chicago jazz scene of the ‘50s during his younger years, playing in the clubs with well-known jazz players. In 1956, he toured with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, a collective of jazz greats and an incubator for young talent. He continues to perform to appreciative gatherings around the globe.
“Ira Sullivan is truly one of the Jazz’s true masters, playing in Chicago at the birth of Bebop in the 1950s,” said David Feder, ICE president. “Though he has called Miami home for the last several decades, Sullivan is widely recorded and tours on the national and international jazz circuits.”
Sullivan has played on several occasions with Feder and his son, Nyan, in Islamorada.
“It’s always a great time,” Sullivan said. “My son, Brev, plays guitar and so does Nyan, so I’m hoping them two will do a duet during the show.”
ICE is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing quality entertainment and cultural events to Upper Keys residents. Proceeds from ICE events provide music, dance, and arts scholarships to local students and grants to school programs.