Last year's New York City Winter JazzFest was a squall of jazz... passing through quickly, contained within a tight radius, and barely leaving a trace afterwards. Music exploded out of venues across the West Village in New York, in a multi-venue weekend that pulled huge crowds. Young & old braved numbing temperatures to catch the next hot band & run to the next hot venue. Names & nobodies alike played their stellar hour on bandstands in clubs, churches, meeting halls, law school auditoriums, wherever suitable space for players & audience could be found, and were thrilled by the opportunity to play before such large, happy crowds.
And everywhere was The Line. It didn't matter what day you went, what time you went, what venue you arrived at, what artist you wanted to see, what success that artist has or has not attained. The Line was everywhere -- down the block from each club, around the corner from the churches & other venues.
I have not seen this type of outpouring for Jazz in decades -- as a melting pot, a crucible for fan interest in having a great time & for hearing great music. Young couples; older fans; groups of young people; middle aged fans. Male. Female. Jazz. And magic. In the air.
Is this a new resurgence in the love of jazz? Have millennials discovered jazz in its various guises, the very core of American music? Is it merely an Event that draws the curious & the thrill seeker? Or is it just a few hundred young adults following The Scene on a Friday or Saturday night in tourist-trappy Greenwich Village, certain to leave it behind when the next fad appears?
This is my Grail to discover this year. I've seen the JazzFest grow dramatically over the last two years. I'd love to know which of these threads holds strongest.
I'm also looking forward to this coming weekend to discover musical ideas & visions heretofore unknown to me. Between the older players & the newest arrival on the jazz scene, there is each year a true sense of lineage, of generations in flux, of batons passed.
Last year I was thrilled to discover young trumpeter Theo Coker, who is on this year's bill as well. Not only does he play exceptionally well, he led a band of long-time friends in what only could be described as "a romp." Rarely have I experienced musicians having such pure fun, and creating such infectious joy with their music.
Classical gypsy guitarist Stephane Wremble proved a happy rediscovery for me, and a chance to introduce his wizardry & hummingbird hands to a good friend of mine from radio.
I'm looking forward to this weekend to see how the Winter JazzFest will evolve this year. I strongly urge you to head to the Festival's site to order passes for the entire affair, to join The Line & to discover some truly thrilling music.