Warren Leight's Side Man is one of the best plays ever written about the jazz world. Set between 1953 and 1985, when jazz was starting to become marginalized amid the onslaught of rock 'n' roll, it tells the story of a jazz trumpeter and his dysfunctional family.
Banyan Theater is winding up its summer season with Leight's semi-autobiographical play (his father was a jazz musician), which won the 1999 Tony Award for best play, in a production that stars Steve DuMouchel as the trumpet player, Roxanne Fay as his alcoholic wife and Juan Javier Cardenas as their son, Clifford.
"Side Man gives us a stark look into the world of the people who created this music during this time, and the sacrifices they and their families and friends had to make to keep themselves and the art form alive,'' writes director Jim Wise. "As Clifford, our central character, says about his father and other jazz musicians, 'They played not for fame, and certainly not for money. They played for each other. To swing. To blow. Night after night, they were just burning brass. Oblivious.' ''
Side Man opens tonight and runs through Aug. 22 at the Cook Theatre of the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $28.50. (941) 552-1032; banyantheatercompany.com.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic