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Festival jazzed about new sponsor

Chad Abraham
Crowds take in the Widespread Panic show at last year's Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day festival. (Aspen Times file)
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Jazz Aspen Snowmass has landed a new title sponsor for its June and Labor Day concerts, a move the festival’s executive producer said is critical to maintaining the series.Calamos Investments, a money-management company based near Chicago, made a three-year commitment to sponsor the popular concerts. John Calamos Sr., who has a home in Aspen and has attended the popular concerts for years, heads the firm.A mutual friend told Calamos that the Janus investment company, which had sponsored the concerts for more than a decade, was ending its ties to Jazz Aspen, said Jim Horowitz, the festival’s CEO. That relationship ended amicably, he said.

“They were nothing but a fantastic partner for us,” he said of Janus. “During the years that they were involved, we were able to build the festival.”Calamos Investments went public last year, and the company “is definitely planning on increasing its profile nationally,” Horowitz said.The motivation behind the move to sponsor Jazz Aspen was to align Calamos with the upper valley’s unique, wealthy market.”I know they’re interested in putting their name out there in a bigger way and they thought the affiliation with the festival was a good way to do that,” Horowitz said.

He said the deal was essential to preserving the concerts, now in their 16th year. Jazz Aspen has grown considerably in prestige in recent years, landing such names as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jack Johnson and Widespread Panic.”It’s not a cheap festival, whether it’s the talent or the infrastructure.” Horowitz said. “We feel very fortunate to be able to bring on a partner like this. And it’s very good for anybody in our community who feels that the jazz festival is a positive asset.”Not replacing Janus would have meant fundamental changes in the festival. Calamos’ sponsorship allows Jazz Aspen to continue what it’s been doing, “within reason,” he said.

The goal was to find another financial services company, and John Calamos’ familiarity with the festival was an added bonus.”We thought it was going to be hard to do it with somebody who had never been there before,” Horowitz said.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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