June Festival set for triumphant return | AspenTimes.com
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June Festival set for triumphant return

Stewart OksenhornAspen Times Staff Writer

Expect Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival to bust out all over Aspen once again. The June Festival is set to return to downtown Aspen after a successful trial last year. The June Festival, with which Jazz Aspen launched its presence 13 years ago, was originally held at the Aspen Music Festivals old Bayer-Benedict Music Tent, before relocating to Snowmass Village in 1993.With the June Festival being increasingly overshadowed by Jazz Aspens bigger, pop music-oriented Labor Day Festival, the nonprofit organization sought to revitalize the June event by moving it to Aspens Rio Grande Park last summer.Tremendous, said Jazz Aspen founder and executive producer Jim Horowitz of last years experiment, which featured main-stage acts Tony Bennett, Joe Cocker and more, and additional artists at the Hotel Jerome and on an outdoor stage at Wagner Park. It was a pedestrian event, very European feeling, much on the model of the festival that inspired it, Jazz at Marciac.And we think itll be better this year, because people have had a taste of it.Jazz Aspen has assembled what Horowitz believes is a powerhouse lineup for this years festival, set for June 24-27. Main-stage acts are Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole, Al Green and Buddy Guy, with a smattering of additional performances within close range of Rio Grande Park.With jazz icon Marsalis, pop diva Cole, soul singer Green and bluesman Guy, Horowitz believes the current lineup is the most diverse offered at the June Festival. With young jazz vocalist Lizz Wright opening for Green, and groove keyboard trio Medeski, Martin & Wood set to open for Guy, there is a taste of most every sound the June Festival has offered in the past.Horowitz points out that, while Marsalis has made two June Festival appearances directing the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the trumpeter has never performed on a Jazz Aspen stage in a small combo. This year, Marsalis will perform with the quartet that recorded his recent CD, The Magic Hour.Green, too, appears on the heels of a new CD that hearkens back to his roots. His Grammy-winning I Cant Stop reunited the soul singer with producer Willie Mitchell, Greens collaborator on his classic early hits.Guy, who has not appeared at Jazz Aspen in eight years, will be performing a half-electric, half-acoustic set, the first time in his long career he has toured as an acoustic musician.Balancing the veteran acts is Wright, a 26-year-old Atlanta native who made her recording debut with last years Salt, on the Verve label. Horowitz believes Wright will be the surprise of the festival.I have sources that I trust with my life who say her live performance is twice as good as her recording, he said. And I think her recording is tremendous. Its always exciting to have that young artist thats breaking out.Away from the main stage, the Soul Survivors featuring veteran soul-jazz players Les McCann, Cornell Dupree and Ernie Watts will play June 24-25 at the Hotel Jerome ballroom. Whiskey Rocks will have New Yorks Latin/hip-hop band Yerba Buena June 26-27. The Wagner Park free stage will feature vocalist Jenna Mamina, Colorado band DKO, Brazilian singer Daude and pianist Michael Melvoin. The festival kicks off with a free concert and parade at the Wagner Park stage featuring New Orleans Rebirth Brass Band.Tickets go on sale to JAS Club members Monday and to the public March 29. Tickets are available by calling 1-866-527-8499, online at http://www.jazzaspen.org or at the Wheeler Opera House box office.[Stewart Oksenhorns e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com]


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