Johnson County Community College (JCCC) staged their first Jazz Winterlude this weekend. Coincidently, New York City hosted a jazz festival this weekend, too, its annual Winter Jazzfest.
New York’s festival was held in five nightclubs within two blocks of each other in Greenwich Village. JCCC’s festival was held in three acoustically magnificent theaters and halls, all in the campus’ Carlsen Center. The New York Festival featured 55 bands. JCCC’s festival featured a dozen. A ticket to the New York festival cost $25 each night. A ticket to JCCC’s festival cost $20 each night, or $25 for both nights, or $5 per night for students. JCCC’s Carlsen Center has free covered parking. I’ll bet those Greenwich Village nightclubs don’t.
The New York festival, in its sixth year, drew 1200 people on Friday and 2500 on Saturday (according to a New York Times review, here). I don’t have figures for JCCC’s festival, but having volunteered there both days, I’ll hazard a guess. Friday’s Winterlude drew considerably fewer folks, though with people calling the box office and asking if the fest was still on, it’s reasonable to assume weather hampered attendance. Saturday is another story. With a substantially filled Yeardley Hall for the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra performance, I’d say that night JCCC drew one quarter to one third the New York number. And for a first year event in a metropolitan area with one ninth the population, that’s impressive.
Jazz Winterlude was the start of what easily could become a highlight of the Kansas City winter calendar. Audiences skewed older than what I generally see in KC clubs. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it means that there’s plenty of potential customers left to attract, and with whom the fest can grow.
Those who have read more than a couple of my posts know I’m an advocate of the tremendous young jazz talent populating Kansas City these days. And while some were part of some festival groups, none were featured. I realize it’s different attracting patrons to music halls rather than nightclubs. And I realize the jazz demographic of Johnson County differs - likely a lot - from that of Greenwich Village. But I can’t help noting the New York festival featured a broad range of talent, including the city’s hot younger jazz stars. I hope future Winterludes, to some extent anyway, follow that lead. Certainly some young groups will not appeal to the bulk of this year’s Winterlude audience. But just as certainly, some will. And I suspect hearing a sampling of the outstanding talent which will be carrying jazz long into the future will make all audiences smile.
Oh, and if the college needs a volunteer for next year’s Winterlude, consider my hand raised.
KC sax master Ahmad Alaadeen is posting a series of wonderful recollections from his years in jazz and in Kansas City at the website scribd. Stories from a career dating back 60 years include meetings with Billie Holiday, Miles Davis (who punched him in the jaw) and John Coltrane. I particularly enjoyed the most recent entry on encounters at the Mutual Musicians Foundation. You can read them, too, on Alaadeen’s scribd page, here.
Saturday the 23rd, violinist Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Quartet plays the latest entry in this season’s Folly Jazz Series.
So, jazz fans, recount everything you know about Mark O’Connor. I’ll wait.
That was fast.
You’d think the theater would want to be telling us all about him. Like his show this past weekend at the Blue Note in New York. You can read about it here.
You’d think they would want us to know about his glowing profile last week in The Wall Street Journal. You can read that here.
You’d think the artist and his agent would want to provide links to online samples of his jazz performances.
You’d think all involved would want to be educating and promoting to put bodies in seats.
But what do I know.