Lisa Kelly and J.B. Scott make beautiful music together.
Not only are they married, they both teach music and often perform together in various groups. On July 21, they're bringing the Kelly/Scott Quartet to Savannah to perform for the Coastal Jazz Association.
"We're all seasoned professional players that have appeared with several groups on a number of occasions at the Savannah Jazz Festival," says Kelly, a jazz vocalist. "JB has been the trumpet professor at UNF for 17 years.
"He directs the flagship big band, and they play every year at the jazz festival behind or supporting one of the major lineup artists," she says.
"We have an ongoing strong presence in the Savannah area, and have been there with big bands and the New Orleans-style group, JB Scott's Swingin' All Stars."
Joining Kelly and Scott on this trip will be Jeff Phillips on piano and bass and Clyde Connor on drums.
"We maintain live acoustic music in the jazz tradition," Kelly says.
Scott, the first graduate of the UNF jazz program, is an associate professor of music at the university, where he directs the UNF Jazz Ensemble I and teaches jazz trumpet.
In addition to fronting the world-famous Dukes of Dixieland for three years, he has also performed in Miami Latin bands and toured with the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Kelly and Scott partnered in 1997.
Together they have performed for major festivals, jazz clubs and jazz societies, as featured soloists with big bands and with their own big band and small groups.
Kelly is a 2013 inductee into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame and a five-time Downbeat Magazine award winner who is considered one of the best big band singers and composers in the country.
"My parents were musicians," she says. "My father still is a semi-professional.
"He was a bass harmonica player with the legendary Harmonicats," Kelly says. "My mother was an opera singer, so I grew up in a very eclectic musical house."
Kelly started singing in a folk group, but turned to jazz.
"I wanted something that challenged me musically and allowed me to create my own style," she says.
"All through childhood, I was exposed to old movies and music, so I heard a lot of music from the 1930s and '40s.
"Some were the jazz standards I pull a lot from today."
As Kelly developed as a musician, she attended the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
"I heard the groups there and said, 'That's what I want to do.'"
After playing with the UNF band as a guest artist, Kelly decided to enroll as a student.
"I was offered the opportunity to go to UNF and get a jazz studies degree," she says.
"I majored in voice and the rest is history," Kelly says. "I've been performing jazz for over 25 years."
Music has taken Kelly around the world.
"I've traveled to Europe on a number of occasions," she says. "I've been to China and all throughout the United States and Canada.
"It's something I love to do and do for people," Kelly says. "I love engaging an audience and sing songs near and dear to them."
The quartet is swing-based.
"It's listenable, danceable and fun," Kelly says.
"We have a good crossover age, from folks who grew up on the music and remember it connected to happy memories, all the way to young listeners we are helping to mentor," she says.
"We both teach and do a lot of traveling doing clinics at high schools to colleges to festivals.
"We do a lot to pass on the legacy of music," Kelly says. "I've become a strong advocate with a big presence in the Southeast in mentoring jazz vocalists."
Both Kelly and Scott were profiled in the book "The New Face of Jazz" as artists and educators.
"My son is a Marine and he is a jazz drummer," Kelly says.
"He came up through the school I taught at and he was an all-state drummer. He played on a number of our professional gigs.
"One of the most rewarding things has been to see my son come up the way we have done and choose to become a musician in his own right," she says. "He's in New Orleans playing with the Marine band and he's a very strong player."
Having music in the family is a treasure for Kelly.
"I get to share performances with my husband and we're able to share that common love of music with each other," she says.
"My father has played on several occasions with us," Kelly says.
"We have a real shared family tradition."
Scott's college band was the first collegiate winner of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Competition and made history as the first to play on the Great Wall of China.
"I was there and sang our national anthem at a major university in China," Kelly says. "To be part of that legacy and create such a unique footprint is wonderful."
The couple is happy to be playing in Savannah.
"We look forward to coming back to play for the jazz society," Kelly says.
"They have a wonderful longstanding tradition of supporting the music. We appreciate the opportunity to come."
The group will be performing music from its five CDs.
"We're working on two more CDs, and look to be releasing them in the fall," Kelly says.
"We're going to have a wonderful afternoon of fun and music."
IF YOU GO
What: Coastal Jazz Society presents "Summer Swingin' in Savannah" featuring the Kelly/Scott Quartet
When: 5 p.m. July 21
Where: Mansion on Forsyth Park, 700 Drayton St.