Jazz Aspen planning big changes | AspenTimes.com

Jazz Aspen planning big changes

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

ASPEN Jazz Aspen Snowmass is changing its tune, in several major ways, for the 2009 season. The nonprofit organization announced Tuesday that it is extending the duration, and moving the location and dates, of its June Festival, while the Labor Day Festival gets shortened by a day.Geographically speaking, Jazz Aspen is going back where it all began: to the Aspen Music Festivals tent in the West End. When Jazz Aspen was launched, in 1991, it used borrowed quarters, under the Music Festivals Bayer-Benedict Music Tent. The event was later moved first to Snowmass Village, and then, in 2002, to Aspens Rio Grande Park, which became home to the June Festival through this past summer. The primary venue for the 2009 June Festival will be the Music Festivals Benedict Music Tent, which replaced the old tent in 2000.In addition to the change of location, the June Festival will also undergo a calendar shift. The festival, traditionally a four-day event, will now span two weekends: June 18-20, and June 25-28. The first weekend will feature concerts in the Music Tent, and will mark the first time that the festival has overlapped with the Food & Wine Magazine Classic. The following weekend will feature the participants from Jazz Aspens JAS Academy, both students and established artists, performing in a variety of venues in downtown Aspen.The Labor Day Festival, which has typically been a four-day event spanning Friday through Monday of the Labor Day weekend, will be shortened to a three-day format, Sept. 4-6, for 2009. Last years festival extended to five days to accommodate a two-night stand by the popular jam-band Widespread Panic drew a record attendance of 36,700 concertgoers. The festival will remain in Snowmass Village.Perhaps the biggest benefit in these changes is that Jazz Aspen will not have to erect a short-term venue for the June Festival. The tent in Rio Grande Park, which accommodated approximately 3,000 people, took several days to raise and several more to take down. The Benedict Tent, on the other hand, is a permanent structure. As the Aspen Music Festivals 2009 season does not get under way until June 25, the tent would have sat empty the preceding weekend. The head of the Music Festival is pleased to have concerts there, rather than the sounds of silence.Its a great use of the venue, said Alan Fletcher, president of the Aspen Music Festival, of having Jazz Aspen return to its tent. Weve been working well together. We like each other, and we like what each other does.The two organizations had some minor squabbling a few years ago, when the Music Festival claimed that noise from a Jazz Aspen performance could be heard during a concert at the Music Tent. Now that the major portion of the June Festivals wont overlap with the Music Festival, that concern is eliminated. But Jazz Aspen and the Music Festival have been in harmony lately, collaborating on a series of concerts the last few summers. Wynton Marsalis Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and singer Patty Austin with the Count Basie Orchestra, are among the acts who have been co-presented by the two organizations at the tent.Fletcher said that Jazz Aspen and the Music Festival are likely to continue such collaborative events, which will probably be held during the Music Festivals opening weekend. He added that the concerts at the tent over the June 18-20 weekend, however, would be exclusively presented by Jazz Aspen: It will be their show in our venue, he said.This is an idea whose time has come, said Jazz Aspen founder and executive producer Jim Horowitz in a written statement. We have discussed this move to the weekend prior to the traditional [Music Festival] season opening weekend off and on for years, and for a variety of reasons, we are confident this will be an exciting development for our organization, help maintain [Jazz Aspen] as a vital community asset even during a challenged economic environment, and alleviate the convergence of the … festivals bumping into each other with simultaneous openings.The second weekend of the June Festival, June 25-28, will feature multiple performances in a variety of clubs, restaurants and patios in downtown Aspen, with one ticket providing access to all the shows. Featured musicians will come from the JAS Academy, Jazz Aspens high-level education program that was started in 1996. The programs artistic director is noted bassist Christian McBride. The weekend will also include free afternoon performances on the Cooper Avenue mall in downtown Aspen.No artists have been announced for Jazz Aspens 2009 season.stewart@aspentimes.com

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