Jazz Aspen Snowmass to host live-streamed concerts
IF YOU WATCH …
What: JAS June Experience In-House
How much: The live-stream is free with a suggested donation of $10
More info: Registration required
Of course, it’s not the same as the 17-artist lineup that was due to fill music venues and bars in downtown Aspen this weekend for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience. But the virtual JAS In-House event will still give fans a taste of what was to be, and what’s to come in 2021.
Jazz Aspen Snowmass will host free nightly live streamed events June 26 to 28 in lieu of its June Experience, which was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The lineup includes a capella group Take 6, Colorado funk band The Motet, jazz pianist Monty Alexander, piano virtuoso Emmet Cohen, drummer and vocalist Sammy Miller, JAS Academy alum Ulysses Owens Jr., Tel Aviv-born clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen with Trio Brasileiro and percussionist Badi Assad.
Broadcasts will start nightly at 7 p.m. and will include artist interviews and performances. All of the participating artists had been slated to perform at the festival before cancellation and have committed to perform in person in 2021.
The virtual festival also is expected to showcase local students who have been in JAS instruction through the stay-at-home and safer-at-home periods.
“It’s a fun way for listeners and viewers to get to know them each so much better,” Jazz Aspen President and CEO Jim Horowitz said of the interviews.
Most of the JAS In-House lineup artists have been through Aspen previously for shows and The Aspen Times has been there:
Take 6 began as just another of the countless college a capella groups in America. But over the past three decades, the group — formed at Alabama’s Oakwood College in 1980 — has redefined vocal music. Take 6 has played the White House and on “Saturday Night Live,” performed alongside legends such as Ray Charles and Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder and won 10 Grammy Awards along the way.
Claude McKnight started the group as a quartet while he was a freshman at Oakwood. Like a typical collegiate glee club, its membership changed with each fall semester until a six-man setup took shape that was clearly something special. They drove the 120 miles to Nashville for a music industry showcase after graduation.
“We literally got our record deal the next day,” McKnight told me before a 2016 Jazz Aspen set. “There was no planning, no idea of what we would do next. Suddenly we were in the music business, and we were making records literally 20 days after getting that deal signed.”
“The only constant in this band is change,” The Motet’s lead singer Lyle Divinsky told me last year.
Though the band has consistently sound-tracked dance parties in Denver and here in the mountains for two decades, the personnel has evolved often. Along with Divinsky, the saxophonist Drew Sayers and trumpeter Parris Fleming have joined the lineup in recent years.
Funk is the common ground among the seven-piece outfit, but Divinsky notes each member brings diverse influences and perspectives from roots reggae to jazz, hip-hop, blues, soul and psych rock.
“As you look at The Motet, there are so many genres that the band has passed through and so many different musics we’ve jumped in on.”
Born in Jamaica before heading to New York City in the ’60s and turning into a jazz pianist, Monty Alexander has returned, in part, to his roots, putting together the Harlem-Kingston Express, a show that featured two combos side by side — an acoustic jazz rhythm section, and an electric reggae band. He headlined Junefest here in 2011 the band and told the Times about how hearing jazz for the first time as a child changed his life: “When I heard it, the thing I instantly detected was the idea of making it up as you play. You put your heart and soul into the music and it could get exciting, take on a whole new life.”