Jazz and Colors Festival Review and photos - OurVinyl

Jazz & Colors Festival Review and Photos

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jazz and colors festival review

The sights of Central Park are amongst the most recognizable and stirring imagery that New York City has to offer. The winding paths, open meadows, and bodies of water that are contained within the 843 acres are opportunities for escape from the bustling city that surrounds it. This past Saturday, all of these sites were provided with one unified soundtrack – 30 different jazz groups spread throughout the park, each of them playing one set-list of 18 standards relating to time and place; that being Autumn and New York.

jazz and colors festival reviewThe Jazz & Colors Festival, which was conceived by Peter Shapiro (owner of Brooklyn Bowl and newly re-opened Capital Theater and former owner of famed Jam-band venue, Wetlands), presents us with a unique way to experience both music and Central Park itself. One of the major inspirations for this festival was The Gates, a public art project that placed over 7,500 brightly colored arches throughout the park that literally highlighted the serpentine paths and immersed spectators in their surroundings. Jazz & Colors replaced the visual stimuli from The Gates with jazz flowing from station to station. Within a few minutes, one could walk from the Merchants Gate at the Southeast corner of the park; just steps away from Broadway and the Time Warner Center, to the secluded Pinebank Arch with orange leaves on the ground and not a skyscraper in site. During this walk you could hear Thelonius Monk’s “Straight No Chaser,” first in a straightforward manner by the Wayne Escoffery Quartet and then a more funked up interpretation by Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad.

The text on the top of the map for Jazz & Colors read “CREATE YOUR OWN CONCERT EXPERIENCE,” which was most certainly the mantra for the day. With 30 bands spread across 6 miles of trails and a playlist of only 4 hours, it was a given that you would likely not be able to see all of the acts. Unlike most festivals where you view a schedule prior to the event and attempt to map out your course; here people were encouraged to just wander and go out their own pace. It was very much a self-guided tour where people could choose to take a seat for an entire set, or, if they had the energy, traverse the park for a number of hours.

Much like The Gates, Jazz & Colors was also truly a public event. It’s difficult to gauge how many people came specifically for the music since all the venues were spread across the park, but there were tons of people who were simply at the park to enjoy a pleasant day and happened to stumble upon world class musicians at every turn. Joggers and bikers were seen taking longer than usual to catch their breaths and generally seemed delighted when they took out their headphones and tuned in to the music being created around them. It was also a fine day for several of the bustlers who generally set-up shop in the park anyway as they found an even larger audience than usual of people willing to stop and listen.

The sites of course were of a great importance and this festival did a great job of educating you as your musical journey continued. Blurbs were written up for each of the 30 stations, telling you a little bit about their significance. The range of characteristics that each specific site had was one of the factors that made this day so enjoyable. This was an escape in it’s purest sense, with all of your senses being overwhelmed in the greatest possible way. To describe just one setting or one performance in depth almost does injustice to this festival as a whole. With so much to take in, we can only hope that the Jazz & Colors Festival returns next year for another chance.

View some photos from my experience below. You can also find the set list and performers after the imagery:

By Jesse Zryb

OurVinyl | Senior Writer

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First Set (12:00 – 1:30)

  • “Straight No Chaser” – Thelonious Monk, 1951

  • “Take The A Train” – Billy Strayhorn, 1939

  • “Central Park West” – John Coltrane,

  • “Nature Boy” – Eden Ahbez, 1947

  • “Fall” – The Miles Davis Quartet, 1967

  • “Autumn Serenade” – Johnny Harman / John Coltrane, 1963

  • “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” – Charles Mingus, 1959

  • “Manhattan” – Rodgers and Hart, 1925

  • “Blue Train” – John Coltrane, 1957

    Intermission (1:30 – 2:30)

  • Featuring Jazz & Colors Rising Stars Soloist Contest Winners,

    Second Set (2:30 – 4:00)

  • “Scrapple From The Apple” – Charlie Parker, 1947

  • “The Blues Walk” – Clifford Brown and Max Roach, 1955

  • “Body and Soul” – Louis Armstrong, 1930

  • “Skating in Central Park” – John Lewis, 1959

  • “Rhythm-A-Ning” – Thelonious Monk, 1957

  • “Peace” – Ornette Coleman, 1959

  • “Nostalgia in Times Square” – Charles Mingus, 1960

  • “Autumn in New York” – Vernon Duke, 1934

  • “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, 2009

List Of Bands (Clockwise from Northwest Corner of Central Park):

Chris Dingman Quartet, Jason Marshall Quartet with Hilary Gardner, Kirk Knuffke/Jesse Stacken Duo with Bill Goodwin, Marika Hughes and Bottom Heavy, Kevin Hays Trio, JC Hopkins Quintet, Jamie Baum Quintet, Marc Cary Quartet, Roy Campbell Tazz Quartet, Sharel Cassity Quintet, Mingus Big Band, JD Allen Quartet, Jacques Schwartz-Bart Quartet with Stephanie McKay, Kahlil Kwame Bell, Bob Stewart Quintet, Kimberly Thompson Quartet, Wayne Escoffery Quartet with Carolyn Leonhart, Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad, Yes! Trio (Aaron Goldberg, Omer Avital, Ali Jackson), Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars, Doug Wamble Quartet, Joel Harrison Quintet, Mike Mo Quartet, Jason Kao Hwang Trio, ELEW, Claire Daly Quartet, Gregoire Maret, Yosvany Terry Quartet, The Klezmatics, Mitch Frohman’s Latin-Jazz Quartet.

Words and photos from Jesse Zryb

OurVinyl | Senior Writer