Charles Lloyd, Elvin Jones, Bill Frisell Among Big Names At Small Festivals

For intimacy and absence of corporate plugs, jazz fans flock to minifestivals around the country.

The big jazz festivals — the Bell Atlantics, the

JVC's, the Montereys — keep getting bigger. And

better, too. But for the connoisseur who seeks a more

intimate experience, without corporate logos flying

every which way, there are a number of minifestivals

around the country. And there are more of them each


Under way in New York is the Vision Festival, a feast

for those who like to dwell on jazz's cutting edge. In

Burlington, Vt., there's the Discover Jazz Festival.

"I always have appreciated playing the festival in

Vermont," said trumpeter Dave

Douglas, who will be there again this year.

"There is a low-key atmosphere, but also a very

supportive audience, and the whole thing is well put

together by a staff of people who obviously have a

passion for what they are doing."

(Click here for dates, locations and rosters of

selected summer festivals.)

Passion is, in fact, the theme that connects all these

smaller, boutique affairs. It can go a long way in

lieu of corporate sponsors.

"We are all volunteers, and we love treating the

musicians right, and having a really solid lineup,"

said Jessica Felix, director of the Healdsburg

Festival, about 70 miles north of San Francisco. "I am

happily surprised that we made it for our second

season. Hopefully, some of our love for the music will

result in ticket sales."

With people such as saxophonists

COLOR="#003163">Charles Lloyd and pianist

Fred Hersch on the

bill at Healdsburg, it's hard to imagine folks not

buying tickets. And such is the case with many of

these surprisingly well-booked events.

Here's a look at a few of them:

Arts For Art Vision Festival

The Arts For Art Vision Festival, through Monday at

the snug New Age Cabaret in Manhattan's Lower East

Side, is now in its fifth year. Run by musicians and

artists, it's the only substantial jazz festival in

New York that operates without a corporate sponsor.

This year's lineup features giants from jazz's

adventurous side, such as pianist

COLOR="#003163">Matthew Shipp, who plays

with bassist William

Parker, in the

COLOR="#003163">Other Dimensions in Music

project on Friday (May 26). Shipp, whose CD

Pastoral Composure contains the tune "Prelude

to a Kiss" (

excerpt), also will perform in a duo with

turntable master DJ

Spooky on Sunday. Other highlights that day

include a duo of pianist Myra

Melford and multireed ace

COLOR="#003163">Marty Ehrlich — with

the chance that reed player and former

COLOR="#003163">Art Ensemble of Chicago

member Joseph

Jarman might sit in — and

COLOR="#003163">James Blood Ulmer's

Music Revelation


The festival closes with a tribute to the late alto

saxophone great Julius

Hemphill. Two of his mates in the

COLOR="#003163">World Saxophone Quartet,

Oliver Lake and

David Murray, will

participate, as will Ehrlich. The performance will

features visual, real-time performance by artist

Jeff Schlanger.

Healdsburg Jazz Festival

On the West Coast, running June 1–4, is the

Healdsburg Jazz Festival. In only its second year, the

Sonoma County-based affair not only offers a lineup of

top-flight jazz talent as a drawing card, but a

magnificent bucolic location, amid redwood trees,

vineyards and the nearby pastoral Russian River. Some

shows take place on the grounds of vineyards.

"We like to keep our little town a secret, but

sometimes, you have to let people know about this

majestic set of venues," Felix said. June 2 features a

duet with Hersch and saxophonist

COLOR="#003163">Jane Ira Bloom. The next

days is a saxophone feast, with

COLOR="#003163">Pharoah Sanders performing

in the afternoon, followed by tenor great

COLOR="#003163">George Coleman and pianist

Harold Mabern.

That night a blast from the Windy City blows into

Healdsburg — saxophonists

COLOR="#003163">Von Freeman and

COLOR="#003163">Chico Freeman, his son,

lead a group consisting of drummer

COLOR="#003163">Victor Lewis, pianist

George Cables and

bassist George


The final day, June 3, features an all-star group with

saxophone legend Lloyd, guitarist

COLOR="#003163">John Abercrombie, drummer

Billy Higgins and

a fourth member to be named later.

Discover Jazz Festival

The Discover Jazz Festival — which takes its name

literally, as opposed to taking sponsorship money from

the Discover Card — runs June 5–11. Director

Michael Land admitted he's tired of the confusion.

"We may have to find a new name for the festival,

since most people think we are having our expenses

taken care of by a credit card company, a minor one as

well," he said.

Mainstream jazz, Latin swing, funk, gospel and zydeco

are on the menu at venues throughout the small but

vibrant college town of Burlington. With sponsors such

as Vermont Public Radio, the local NBC affiliate and

the Burlington-based rock group

COLOR="#003163">Phish, the festival is

finally on steady legs.

The Discover festival seeks to present a combination

of living legends and younger upstarts. Representing

the elder front this year are Cuban pianist

COLOR="#003163">Chucho Valdés (June

9), multi-instrumentalist

COLOR="#003163">Toots Thielemans (June 11)

and singer Fontella

Bass (June 11). The upstarts include

trumpeter Douglas (June 7), drummer

COLOR="#003163">Jeff "Tain" Watts (June

10), and the Jazz Mandolin

Project (June 6).

Both camps are represented on June 10, when Watts

opens for drummer Elvin

Jones' Jazz Machine at the Flynn Theatre.

Jones' group employs tenor saxophonist

COLOR="#003163">Ravi Coltrane, whose father

was, of course, John

Coltrane, who used to employ Jones.

Eddie Moore Jazz Festival

The Eddie Moore

Jazz Festival, in Oakland, Calif., Aug. 7–13, is

entering its 11th year as perhaps the nation's premier

small jazz festival. Run by the volunteer organization

Jazz in Flight, the festival is named for the beloved

drum virtuoso who died on the bandstand May 21, 1990.

"It's cool that they didn't wait 50 years to dedicate

something like this for Eddie," said saxophonist

Craig Handy, who

performed at last year's festival.

Dozens of great musicians performed with Moore over

the years, and that's one reason the festival is able

to attract major talent. This year's lineup includes

Sex Mob with guest

keyboardist John

Medeski and bassist

COLOR="#003163">Chris Wood from

COLOR="#003163">Medeski Martin & Wood (Aug.

8); clarinetist Alvin

Batiste and multireed master

COLOR="#003163">John Tchicai (Aug. 10); and

guitarist and composer Pierre

Dorge and his New

Jungle Orchestra (Aug. 13).

"Eddie Moore was just such a huge figure on the scene

here, and people just loved him. That's basically why

this thing flies," said Chris White, the festival's

operating director. "We are able to put on eight shows

and rent out Yoshi's for the week, all for around

$80,000. The San Francisco Jazz Festival puts on a few

more shows and spends about 15 times what we do."

Caramoor Festival 2000

Guitarist Bill

Frisell is looking forward to playing the

Caramoor Festival 2000 in Katonah, N.Y. The festival

runs two Saturdays, July 29 and Aug. 5. Frisell will

be reunited with his mates from the

COLOR="#003163">Paul Motian Trio, Motian on

drums and Joe

Lovano on saxophone.

"We so rarely get to play together because everyone is

so busy, but the combination of playing with Paul

again, and with Joe, and in this really nice place

– man, I'm excited," Frisell said.

The 80th anniversary of sax titan

COLOR="#003163">Charlie Parker's birth is

the occasion for gathering an incredible collection of

sax greats at Caramoor on Aug. 5. James Moody, Sam

Rivers, Steve Lacy, Charles McPherson, Phil Woods and

Lovano all perform. To maintain a schedule like this

one, only an hour from Manhattan, Caramoor may have to

find a bigger venue than the beautiful amphitheater it

uses for its shows.

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