Green, Flack join bill for Jazz Aspen
This year’s Jazz Aspen June Festival, set for June 17-20, should sport a welcome combination of things familiar and new.
Heading the list of familiar items is soul singer Al Green. Green, who appeared at Jazz Aspen’s 1996 Labor Day Festival and gave a legendary performance, will headline the bill on Saturday, June 19. The opening act for Saturday has yet to be announced.
Among those things new is singer Roberta Flack, who will make her Jazz Aspen debut at the opening night Gala on Thursday, June 17. Flack and her 11-piece band will open the Gala, before giving way to a yet-to-be-announced swing band to close the show. Also new will be the two Gala night dance floors for genuine swinging.
Perhaps the biggest new item on the June Festival agenda is the new tent. Like the striking new stage that gave last summer’s Jazz Aspen Labor Day Festival an added boost, Jazz Aspen predicts that the new June Festival tent will also be a big hit.
“Going back a couple of years, we’ve had some problems with the tent in the June Festival,” said Jazz Aspen founder and executive producer Jim Horowitz. “If you were inside the tent, it was great, it was beautiful.
“But it wasn’t designed for big concerts, like we were trying to do. We had problems with the height of the stage, so the seats at the sides were marginal, and there were poles that obstructed views. And the people outside the tent, unless they were right up front, couldn’t see at all.”
The new tent is slightly bigger, but has no interior poles to obstruct views. The tent is square, rather than rectangular, eliminating the marginal side seats. Best of all, the opening at the back of the tent is much higher than in the old tent.
“Because it’s much higher, we can raise the stage about four feet,” said Horowitz. “That will eliminate all the difficulties in seeing, inside and outside the tent.
“It will be more like the Labor Day stage, where no matter where you are, you can see the stage.”
In the addition-by-subtraction category, Jazz Aspen has announced that it is eliminating the charge for tickets to the traditional Sunday morning gospel concert, often one of the highlights of the June weekend. The gospel show, with an act yet to be announced, will be free of charge, and concertgoers will be seated on a first-come basis.
Lastly, times for the weekend evening concerts will be pushed forward, so that Saturday and Sunday concerts will begin at 5 p.m., to take advantage of the light and warmth.
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Amid the pre-Thanksgiving gloom of grim pandemic news here in Aspen, across Colorado and the mountain west came a small but significant dose of hope in the unlikely form of an Aspen Music Festival and School announcement.