I took an unpressured, leisurely approach to the festival, which was a nice indulgence. Heard the Vijay Iyer Trio, which met high expectations, and the duo of Jenny Scheinman and Jason Moran, which exceeded them. Had my first, satisfying taste of Mike Reed’s People, Places and Things. And while I was sorry to miss a lot of stuff -- including a late set by Jamie Saft’s Whoopie Pie, pictured above (in a photo by Greg Aiello) -- there was plenty of music to go around.
And plenty of hang time, which was what really made the Winter JazzFest feel, y’know, festive. Maybe my recent introduction to the Twitterverse is playing some role here, but the weekend felt extremely connected to me. (This is one reason I’m sorry to have missed a pertinent APAP / Jazz Journalists Association panel on Sunday. It was squarely on my agenda, but other plans interfered.) In any case, I’m not just talking about virtual connections. It was the whole vibe, which bassist Ben Allison hits on in a blog recap:
The venues were cleared of tables and chairs. People stood, packed together. It was hot and sweaty inside (despite the sub-zero temperatures outside). People talked and laughed and yelled in appreciation of the music, hanging on every note. They applauded not just at the end of solos like they were taught in “jazz appreciation class,” but whenever they felt like it -- during interesting transitions, when a cool groove emerged, when the intensity of a performance changed. It all felt very organic, very musical.
I’d echo those sentiments exactly. So now, a question: how to sustain this high? There’ll be no less jazz around the city next week, and the week after that. (OK, maybe a little less.) I’d love to see the energy and passion of Winter JazzFest all year-round. Could happen.