Jazz health, bright moments

All is not dismal in Jazzville: Producer George Wein has found a title sponsor — CareFusion — for his jazz festivals in Newport next month and New York City summer 2010. SFJazz has announced a stellar lineup including Ornette Coleman for its fall fest, Oct. 10 – Nov. 21. 

As Mitch Myers reports from the 13-day 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, diversity, provided by living legends and genuinely engaging younger talents, is the key. As James Hale reported from the just ended 11-day-long Ottawa Jazz Festival (as which he worked as a media consultant), “the personalities behind the music are as strong and creative as ever.”
So are festivals the future — or just the present — of jazz?

Of course it’s July, and festive series of vernacular music — increasingly blurring genres of jazz, pop, “world” fusions, nostalgia acts, rock ‘n’ soul — abound. Fests can be a couple of days, a week, a weekend — can be devoted to a subgenre, a locale’s local performers, or rarely-heard/little know out-of-towners — can be free to the public, or costly if only by virtue of being held in out-of-the-way destinations where, on top of ticket and travel expenses, lodging goes for a premium. But those of us who live for and by music and study the circumstances of its presentation besides listening to its siren songs can easily agree with my buddy Mitch, who writes in his Magnet coverage of Montreal (after having just spent a week reporting on New York City’s Vision Fest): 

The synergy between private funding, municipal assistance, corporate underwriting, old-fashioned capitalism, academia, mass and multi-media, endowments, art, commerce, show-biz, technology and the earnest commitment of countless individuals can really add up to something special if you know what you are doing.

Wein is one who knows what he’s doing — he invented the jazz festival, you may recall — and that evidently attracted CareFusion, a subsidiary of Cardinal Health which is about to spin off as an independent entity, to his projects. A global firm which supplies hospitals with services and equipment it says increase the safety and quality of health care, CareFusion wouldn’t seem to be the sort of business that usually courts broad name recognition from concert-goers (“Wait a minute — I want the jazz-associated MRI machine!”) but CEO David Schlotterbeck told the hungry scribes he and Wein had invited to upscale City Winery for their announcement “affecting the future of jazz in New York City” that “there is a clear connection between jazz and medicine that provides the perfect opportunity to launch our new brand. . . Both jazz and the practice of medicine embrace innovation, performance and change.” 
Ah, change we can believe in! The new CareFusion Jazz Festival Series starts with George Wein’s CareFusion Jazz Festival 55 (née the Newport Jazz Festival) Aug. 7 – 9, then expands beyond his bailiwick to support the Chicago Jazz Festival Sept. 4 – 6, to underwrite a stage called “Dizzy’s Den” at the Monterey Jazz Festival Sept. 18 – 20, to put on the CareFusion Manly Jazz Festival in Sydney, Australia Oct. 3 – 5, and the CareFusion Jazz Festival Paris Oct. 16 – 24 (few details on these latter two are currently available). Finally, the CareFusion New York Jazz Festival is foreseen as taking the place in June 2010 of the JVC Jazz Festival-New York, which Wein’s Festival Productions presented for 38 years (and before that as the Newport in New York Jazz Festival). 
Did I mention that the SFJazz fest, which is a series of separately-ticketed events at concert venues all over that fascinating city, is promising Ornette Coleman? And Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, Pat Martino, Bela Fleck, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Esperanza Spalding, James Cotton, Keb Mo’, and Brazilian stars Gal Costa and Milton Nascimento? Diversity — yes! Strength and creativity, for sure! Now where did I put that schedule for Manhattan’s River-to-River fest, for Lincoln Center’s July Mid-Summer Night Swing and August Out-of-Doors, for Central Park SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn (don’t miss King Sunny Adé headlining African Festival in Prospect Park) and the City Parks Foundation’s Charlie Parker Festival? So much to dig now, do we dare worry about the future. . . .later?

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  1. Paul Lindemeyer says

    “there is a clear connection between jazz and medicine that provides the perfect opportunity to launch our new brand…”
    What’s he really saying? Both are financed primarily by the well-off elderly? Both are of particular interest to obsessive New Yorkers? Both can make you very sick if poorly performed? :)
    HM: Healing, Paul — healing. And medicine is practiced by the best and the brightest (though hopefully they’re not all the time improvising).