For 31 years, Sonny LaRosa of Safety Harbor has taught preteens the fine art of big-band swing, and has taken his orchestra, aptly named America's Youngest Jazz Band, to perform at concerts around the world. LaRosa, 83, a longtime trumpet player, has arranged music by Duke Ellington and other jazz greats for more than 600 kids ages 4 to 13. "This is not something that's found every day. That's why they say it's the best band of its kind in the world," he said. Alumni of the orchestra include Blue Note saxophonist Eric Darius and R&B singer Ryan Kendrick. Other former members have gone on to play with Wynton Marsalis and Al Green. The band has been invited to perform on the main stage of the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival on July 4. This Saturday at 7 p.m., they're holding a fundraising concert to make that trip happen. Tickets are $10; free for kids. North Bay Community Church, 3170 McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater.
Jay Cridlin, Times staff writer