Hey hep cats! When was the last time you dug out that old Blue Note vinyl, kicked back and enjoyed the sound of sweet horns, laid back bass and brushed snare drums? Well, dig this, Saturday, May 28 is International Jazz Day, so dust off that beret, change the needle on your record player and get groovin’.
International Jazz Day was started in 1991 by musician D. Michael Denny as a way to appreciate and celebrate this distinct musical art form and its history. Jazz has been called the first authentically American musical form. Many feel it was born in New Orleans but Kansas City and Chicago have also laid claim as its birthplace and its produced such American icons as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. Jazz was unique in that it blended African and European musical traditions together and while it initially started out as good-time music, it matured during the bebop era of the 50’s and became a sophisticated musical expression with a focus on improvisation and complex arrangements that rivalled those of the greatest classical music composers.
Jazz ruled the airwaves during the early part of the 20th century, but with the advent of rock music it began to lose its mainstream audience. Some argue that there’s been little innovation since the bop heyday of the 50s and early 60s but it still remains a vital part of American culture. International Jazz Day is a perfect way to recognize the important place that it holds as an American art form and is also a great excuse to listen to some truly incredible music.
Jazz is best experienced live, and starting on June 1st the city of Bellevue, just across Lake Washington from Brown Paper Tickets’ home offices, will host the 2011 Bellevue Jazz Festival. The festival focuses on the best in national and regional talent with the overarching goal of supporting jazz education in the Seattle/Bellevue metropolitan area. This is the fourth year of the festival and this year features a blend of ticketed and free performances by top national and regional jazz musicians throughout downtown Bellevue.
Headliner acts include saxophonist Charles Lloyd, preeminent violinist Regina Carter, saxophone soloist and band leader Chris Potter, three-time Grammy nominee Tierney Sutton and the 17-piece Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra. All ticketed shows will take place at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center but there will be over 50 free shows throughout the weekend in downtown bars, hotels and cultural spaces.
Sounds like the perfect opportunity to get out there and appreciate the important cultural contribution that jazz provides. This is our music and we should be encouraged that events like the Bellevue Jazz Festival keep it alive and relevant in today’s ever shifting cultural focus. Help support live jazz music and ensure that this incredible art form will survive for our children and our children’s children to enjoy.
Advanced tickets to the festival can be purchased here. For more information on jazz events that may be happening in your area on International Jazz Day or about jazz music in general, please visit these excellent resources: