Live music may be on hold right now, but the excitement is building toward two amazing jazz events in Las Vegas in ’21.
Our Take: Bummer Summer
Jazz festivals and summer. Taking a blanket and a picnic basket and heading out for a late afternoon and evening of music. Whether the events are by the ocean, a downtown park, in the mountains or in secluded wooded areas, enjoying music outdoors is a ritual, if not a rite, or even a right. Until this summer.
When we were starting our cruise programs, 20 years ago, we would follow the festival season from late spring to the fall. Going to a festival, setting up a booth and meeting potential guests was our social networking program. It was arduous, inefficient, expensive, time consuming and more fun than anyone should have as a middle-aged man. The crowds were amazing. Some were there for the vibe. Some for the chance to let loose. But, by far, most were there to enjoy their music and do so in a relaxed, sun-kissed venue amidst their friends or at least their fellow fans.
“Music outdoors will always be the perfect complement to those long, slow moving summer days and the excitement and exhilaration of those magical summer nights.”
There’s no doubt that modern day jazz festivals are much different than those of a simpler time when technology and pyrotechnics were only in the movies. The sound systems could be scratchy and inconsistent, but the air was clean, the grass was comforting and the beer was cold. No one counted calories or fashioned themselves as being gluten-free or on a low-carb diet. If it tasted good, you ate it. If it looked refreshing, you drank it. I am sure that folks got sick back then as well, but, somehow, you did not notice.
Even before the horrors of COVID–19, the festivals began to change. VIP this and that. Healthy food options. Catered food. Wine tastings. Special seating. I must admit that I enjoy many, if not most, of those changes. But, last night, I was watching “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” on Turner Classic Movies. (Note: One week, we will spend the entire Our Take discussing the joys of TCM!) “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” documents the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and features performances by Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan, Dinah Washington and many others. Back then, jazz could be a part of every teen’s musical playbook. Rock ‘n’ roll was on the horizon for sure, but the journey from jazz to early rock ‘n’ roll was not too far at all. I was struck by the apparent simplicity of the production, the attentiveness of the crowds and the excitement in their expressions. At that time, going to a jazz event may have been the outer boundary of polite society, a veritable walk on the wild side.
I then flipped the channel to CNN, where young folks had found a much different way to spend a summer’s evening. Both examples reflect the reality of their times, and, between the “film” on TCM and the “now” on CNN, it felt like the entirety of my life was on screen. It was like flipping through cards and photos to imitate motion like an old cartoon. You could stop and focus on one vision or another, but the excitement came from seeing how it flowed.
I believe that “change” is more often good than bad. Clearly it is inevitable. TCM was also showing “Life With Father,” a 19th-century look at life in New York City with the Day family. There were enough politically incorrect elements of that movie to fill a book. Yet, the movie is generally heralded as a classic. Not one minute of the movie is relevant to the world today and I could not find anything, other than falling in love, to be timeless. Figuring out what to do with those movies, those experiences and those images will be challenging going forward, for sure. How do we balance the elements of life that comprise our youth, but are sorely out of place now? Do we denounce them? Do we apologize for them? Or do we accept the notion that determining what is the right thing requires context. The only true measure is what was in your heart at the time.
I guess I have figured out why the loss of summer jazz festivals is bothering me so much. Even today’s jazz festivals give me the opportunity to enjoy the past, the present and the future. Even if the music is new, the composition stems from an historic origin. The technology and production level, as well as the players, are part of the present. As for the future, well, I would like to believe that attending a jazz festival is something that will survive whatever it is that we are enduring now, on several fronts, and will always be the perfect complement to those long, slow moving summer days and the excitement and exhilaration of those magical summer nights.
Now, as for this summer … total bummer!
TIME FOR A BREAK!
Taking time off around the 4th of July has become a tradition at Entertainment Cruise Productions. Our offices will be closed Monday (June 29) through Friday (July 3). We believe that a mid-summer pause from our day-to-day operations will invigorate us all.
We wish each of you a wonderful week and holiday weekend! And, yes, there will be a July 4th Edition of The Weekender! If you look carefully, The Weekender is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at email@example.com.
Jazz In Las Vegas! It’s On In ’21
Just because we cannot sail in ’21 does not mean that we cannot get together and enjoy The Greatest Jazz Festival at Sea and The Greatest Party at Sea! Both events have been temporarily relocated to Las Vegas for 5 days and 5 nights of the jazz you love in 2021. Rumor has it that Las Vegas also knows how to produce a festival and throw a party!
The websites for Jazz: Live In Las Vegas (Sunday, February 21, 2021 – Friday, February 26, 2021) and The Smooth Jazz Cruise: Live In Las Vegas (Sunday, February 28, 2021 – Friday, March 5, 2021) will be live on July 7! Check out all the details, including the lineups, hotel accommodations, packages, pricing, the special shows, dining and more!
As is the custom for our jazz cruise programs, Past Guests receive special benefits, including the lowest prices and the first opportunity to make reservations. Past Guests will receive an email on July 7 with additional details and they may start completing reservations online at that time! Past Guests’ exclusive right to complete reservations for The Smooth Jazz Cruise: Live In Las Vegas and for Jazz: Live In Las Vegas ends at 5 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, July 15.
Open Booking for The Smooth Jazz Cruise: Live In Las Vegas and for Jazz: Live In Las Vegas starts on Thursday, July 16.
Contestants Needed for Name That Tune!
You don’t have to wait until The Jazz Cruise ’22 to play Name That Tune with Shelly Berg and Ken Peplowski. They are hosting a virtual edition of The Jazz Cruise staple on Fridays at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.
The winner each week will move on to the final round where you’ll face off with all-time reigning champion, Gary Alexander. It’s a whole lot of fun and not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.
If you’d like to compete, please email Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you’ll join us!
The Vail Jazz Foundation Launches
The Vail Jazz Foundation is pleased to announce Jazz Interludes, an online video series featuring exclusive content, live performances, and cheeky interviews.
Jazz Interludes kicks off with Adrian Cunningham: Professor Cunningham and His Old School Band. Keep your eyes peeled for the full lineup, including Emmet Cohen, Russell Hall, Veronica Swift, and more.
The professionally filmed and edited content is delivered in short, easily digestible episodes. You can expect to see 3-4 new episodes released weekly throughout the summer. Be sure to visit VailJazz.org, subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter, or follow on social media for more info.