The 2008 MOJA Festival’s live music series kicks off on Fri. Sept. 26 downtown at the U.S. Custom House (200 East Bay Street) with the popular “Reggae Block Dance” event — an evening of live reggae and Caribbean rhythms with bands, African drummers and dancers, ethnic foods and international crafts from 7-11 p.m.

[image-1]Acclaimed saxophonist Kirk Whalum — a smooth cat known for recording and performing with Bob James, Nancy Wilson, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, and others — shares the stage with local acts The Quentin Baxter Trio and young violinist Daniel Davis at the The Cistern (66 George Street) on Sat. Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Whalum’s smooth-styled new album Roundtrip touches on his early experiences as a young, hard-working musician in the Memphis and Houston club scenes. Special guest players include Earl Klugh, Jeff Golub, Gerald Albright, and Philippe Saisse, as well as some of his bandmates such as Rex Rideout, drummer Michael White, bassist Melvin Davis, guitarist Mark Jaimes, and trumpeter James McMillan.[image-2]

“John Street Jazz” brings Ann Caldwell & Loose Fitt — “Charleston’s first lady of jazz” and her ensemble — to Gallery Chuma (43 John Stret) for two sets at 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Sun. Sept. 28.

Next week’s events include a “Jazz Cruise” with Ravenel-based sax player Curtis Inabinett and variety band A Touch of Class on the harbor aboard the Spirit of Charleston on Wed. Oct. 1, and the “MOJA Finale” at Hampton Park on Sun. Oct. 5 with country music vocalist Rissi Palmer (pictured) and Caribbean steel band Tropical Steel Vibes.