Views
2 years ago

CBJC Festival Magazine 2016

Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium produces a Jazz Festival every year. 2016 brings our 17th Annual Festival. The Brooklyn grassRoots festival this year runs from April 15th until May 15. This years event was fantastic. View our magazine for a look inside.

if presented with

if presented with quality and dignity could be positively presented to the public, beyond the clichéd confines and nocturnal nuances of the nightclub, into the light of the sun. He also proved that black and white mix and swing in ebony and ivory harmony. (It is no coincidence that festival launched the same year of the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling). This year’s Newport Jazz Festival 2014 festival lineup is as dancing and diverse as ever. It includes: pianists Michel Camilo, Gerald Clayton, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Fred Hersch, and Hiromi; saxophonists Kenny Garrett, James Carter, Lou Donaldson; drummers Herlin Riley and Jack DeJohnette; guitarist Pat Martino; trumpeters Irvin Mayfield and Ambrose Akinmusire and vocalists Cassandra Wilson and Jose James. “The focus of this year’s festival is what is the future of jazz,” Wein recently told the Associated Press. “We can never ignore the history of the music, but at the same time, there is such energy and spirit among young musicians today. We try to find the ones that are creative and give them a stage to be heard.” The festival has been a place of discovery of new talent, and of artistic rebirth. It was where Miles Davis and Duke Ellington revived their careers in the fifties; where John Coltrane unveiled his lovely supreme saxophone in impressions in the sixties; where rock and jazz merged in the seventies; where 60 the Marsalis brothers launched their neoclassic, ‘Young Lions’ revolution in the eighties and well into the nineties. Today, well into the change of the century, a new generation of improvisers including Houston’s Jason Moran, Christian Scott from New Orleans, and Portland’s Esperanza Spalding are now writing their sonic signatures on the artistic epidermis of their generation. “… [I] think we should allow these young players to share the spotlight, until the public can fully accept them,” Wein says. These are all great players who are trying to find their own voice, trying to add something to the music that becomes part of the mainstream of what is happening. And it’s a privilege for me to present them at Newport.” Through all of the music’s twists of tone and tempo, Wein has stood as a kind of eternal MC – a master of ceremonies to the longest jazz gig on the planet. That said, Wein’s achievement must be viewed in a broader context than just the music. What he did was prove that – contrary to even the haters today – jazz, But just as a jazz solo is an exercise in grace under pressure, Wein’s stewardship at the helm has had its moments of titanic turmoil. There was protest festival spearheaded by Charles Mingus and Max Roach in 1960. There was a time when Wein tried to meld rock and jazz – a move he later regretted. And there were always critics who thought the festival was a sell-out because it didn’t feature more adventurous programming. To their credit, sometimes they were right. But with the ease of a Lester Young solo, Wein adjusted, mended, and molded the festival to walk the near irresolvable tight rope between art and commerce. He performed this balancing act when the jazz masters were dying; when traditional jazz record stores and terrestrial radio stations have almost all disappeared, and when the mention of a jazz musician on TV or in the newspapers was hardly seen unless the musician was in a drug bust or deceased. In the words of Ellington’s hit, “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.” Now, a la Bud Powell, the scene changes. It’s Newport, Rhode Island in 2014. Although Wein is without his wife Joyce , who passed away a few years ago, he is in good spirits, as he rolls around the festival in a golf caddy. Now, a 501c3 not-

for-profit organization, the festival is the best example of jazz as a truly positive avatar of globalization. This is evidenced by the all-world lineup featuring: vocalist Gregory Porter, whose performance literally stopped the rain; chanteuse Cecile McLorin Salvant, who sang her impossibly young heart out; Wynton Marsalis, whose clarion creole trumpet tones brought Mr. Wein to tears, and a whole sepia panorama of jazz artistsyoung and old, black, brown, bone and beige, all delivering their diverse and dancing twenty-first century swing at the speed of bop. “I want to devote the few years left to me to using Newport as a stage for the unique artistry that is out there,” Wein told Jazz Times in 2012. “Jazz, with Newport the principle vehicle, has been my life. If Newport is to continue, it must have a purpose and not be just another jazz festival.” “Jazz will go where musicians take it because they’ll always want to play. And as long as they want to play, somebody’s going to listen.” George Wein, National Public Radio 2014. I’ll lay some good odds against tomorrow that Mr. Wein will be here for the seventieth anniversary of his enduring and innovative festival. Eugene Holley Staff WriterEugene is a Harlem-based, arts and cultural journalist who contributes to The Black World Today (www.tbwt.net), Hispanic (wwww. hisp.com) as well as PureJazz Magazine. 61