A Weekend of Hot Jazz - The New York Hot Jazz Festival - New York City Article
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A Weekend of Hot Jazz
The New York Hot Jazz Festival
530 W 27th St
Sunday, September 30 (afternoon to after midnight)
The Triad (Stage 72)
158 West 72nd Street, 212-279-4200
Friday, September 28
It’s an ongoing truism that the latest thing in jazz is, in fact, the oldest thing: the earliest form of the music, from the Fin de siècle period in New Orleans, through the 1920s (the “jazz age”) and ‘30s and the early Swing Era. What’s more,the majority of musicians interested in it are so young that their grandparents weren’t even born when Bix and Jelly Roll were alive.
The major event of the season is the sixth annual New York Hot Jazz Festival, as always with more bands and performers (on three stages simultaneously) that don’t need a program to help keep track of it all so much as a spreadsheet. The overwhelming highlight is a doubleheader by the man of the hour, Vince Giordano, the first of which is part of the overriding theme this year saluting the 100-year-old connection between American jazz and Europe, France in particular. (That’s “From Harlem To Montmartre: the Jazz Age Voyage,” featuring Kat Edmonson, who sang with the Nighthawks in Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, and a cast of dancers.) Mr. Giordano is not only offering two essential sets, but is receiving a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the music: we could call him the father of the contemporary Hot Jazz Nouveau except that he would probably demand a blood test.
There are too many other highlights to list, but the major acts that I personally don’t want to miss are a new revue of Fats Waller songs (featuring singer-bandleader Michael Mwenso and the excellent dancer Michela Marino Lerman), a three-way battle of the banjos between Eddy Davis, Cynthia Sayer, and Blind Boy Paxton, a set honoring the crucial New Orleans songwriter Spencer Williams (by Charlie Halloran and Queen Esther), fest perennials Tatiana Eva-Marie & the Avalon Jazz Band with violinist Jason Anick and singer Sasha Masakowsi, and the always energetic and effervescent Hot Sardines, and the greatest of all New York-based Hot Hawaiian bands, Bliss Blood and the Moonlighters.
As a warm-up to the Sunday festivities, there’s a new band in a town, the Cornell Syncopators, playing at the Triad on Friday. You might call them the Junior league / farm team Nighthawks, except that leader Colin Hancock has, like Mr. Giordano, his own auditory “vision” for how this music should be played. The group, which performs in varying size ensembles, consists entirely of student players, for whom this music is far from ancient history, but a living and breathing artform that connects the present to the past.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)