Jazz Aspen caps anniversary season, looks back at Explore event | AspenTimes.com

Jazz Aspen caps anniversary season, looks back at Explore event

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Jazz Aspen Snowmass founder and CEO Jim Horowitz, photographed in his home last year. Horowitz will discuss his book on the 25-history of the organization Sunday at Explore Booksellers.
Aspen TImes file |

If You Go …

What: Jim Horowitz, ’25 Years of Jazz Aspen Snowmass’

Where: Explore Booksellers

When: Sunday, Dec. 27, 5 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: http://www.explorebooksellers.com

It’s been a nostalgic year for Jazz Aspen Snowmass founder Jim Horowitz.

His nonprofit celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015. It opened with a rare live performance by Horowitz himself at the JAS Cafe, included an anniversary benefit with Nile Rodgers, a June Experience lineup including recently voted-in Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Chicago, a Labor Day lineup headlined by Lenny Kravitz along with Jazz Aspen’s less flashy work of teaching music to children and putting instruments in their hands.

The capstone event for the big year comes today, when Horowitz will sign and discuss the book “25 Years of Jazz Aspen Snowmass” at Explore Booksellers. He’ll be accompanied, naturally, by live jazz performed by local guitarist Eric Schaudies.

“It’s about over, so this is a nice way for us to cap it,” he said. “And the book is a great way to encapsulate all those memories.”

Horowitz and his staff spent months in 2014 going through photos and memories for the book, from the homespun early days of the June festival to massive Labor Day shows and the birth of the JAS Cafe.

“It was an unbelievable process to go back to day one and look at the whole arc,” he said.

The hardback, coffee-table book’s cover features a mosaic of artist photos forming the number “25.” It includes 25 moments highlighting the organization’s growth from a scrappy jazz upstart in 1991 to a destination festival for some of the biggest names in pop music.

It is lushly illustrated with images by Jazz Aspen photographer Steve Mundinger, who has been shooting its concerts since day one.

“I didn’t even know him,” Horowitz recalled of Mundinger coming on board a quarter century ago. “When it started, it was all volunteers. Somehow we stitched it together. Anyone who wanted to do anything to help out, we said, ‘Sure.’ Steve just said, ‘Hey I live here, I’m a photographer, I want to take some photos.’ He just kept showing up. … He’s taken tens of thousands of photos over the years.”

A few of Horowitz’s favorites are stage shots from recent years featuring Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride, Grace Potter, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and Keith Urban rocking out in the rain.

“There’s that terrible weather and people wall to wall and him putting on this over-the-top, heroic show — that’s one of those moments that could have gone away for us,” he said. “It could have let the air out (of the festival) immediately.”

Horowitz didn’t want to produce a dry, chronological history, he said. He wanted a portrait in memories large and small. Along with all the rock stars, the book closes with an image of the JAS Cafe, which over the past five years, has recentered the nonprofit’s programming identity around traditional jazz.

“Hopefully, whether it’s the initiated or people with no familiarity, people can get a sense of who and what we are by picking it up,” he said.

As 2015 nears an end, Horowitz and crew are working to solidify next summer’s June and Labor Day music lineups. He’s been sending the book as a calling card to agents and managers. Their reactions bode well for what’s to come: “Most of the time it’s, ‘We had no idea.’”