Just when we were convinced that all the talk about Y2K bugs had been
a hoax—perpetrated by PC makers eager to cash in on our paranoia—along
came the infamous “Connecticut Jazz Crash of 2000.” Haven’t
heard of it, you say? Ahhh...those music-biz robber barons are so clever! We never even saw
it was the mysterious disappearance of an avid jazz presenter in
South Glastonbury. Next, record companies began cranking out Jazz for Lovers compilations
by the zillions...Jazz for
Snowy Days, Jazz for Idiots, Jazz for the Workplace, etc.
content with demoting the art form to the equivalent of an air
freshener, the evil execs kidnapped a decent
singer/pianist/interpreter of the American Songbook. After
brainwashing the poor lass, they thrust her into the spotlight,
accompanied by an astounding marketing blitz: she’s not just the reigning diva, not merely the most gorgeous
female pianist around...she’s a jazz goddess! All praises to
the Almighty Diana! Well, perhaps we should reserve a few
salutations for King Wynton, too.
back in the Constitution State, longtime cheerleaders like the
Hartford Jazz Society and Connecticut Jazz Confederation grew weary
and disillusioned. Memberships were Even Hartford’s prized
festival team—Monday Night Bushnell Park and Greater Hartford Jazz—had
gone their separate ways, and down, audiences dwindling, volunteer
support frighteningly low. were plagued by rumors about financial
woes and internal disputes. At least each organization was able to
cast aside its troubles long enough to present an outstanding series
of free outdoor concerts at the Bushnell pavilion.
Allison stepped down as director of the Buttonwood Tree in
Middletown. By 2000, Allison had become the state’s only arts
presenter to regularly showcase cutting-edge improvisational music.
West Hartford witnessed the opening—and closing—of the Metropol
Restaurant, which had shown promise as a jazz venue. The final blow
for the local jazz scene came, ironically enough, on Thanksgiving
weekend, when Hartford’s legendary Cafe 880 Jazz called it quits.
But is that really the end
of the story?
we jazz lovers are a pretty resilient bunch! We’re used to
swimming upstream, and when we hit the rapids, as happened last
year, we tend to push that much harder. Forget about those TV “survivors!”
The real survivors, given
the current inhospitable jazz climate, are folks like Paul Brown,
who has continued to bring free concerts to Hartford every summer
since 1967. WWUH is proud to have resumed our live Bushnell Park
broadcasts of his Monday Night Jazz Series last July and August; the
station’s jazz and engineering staffs donated their time each week
to make sure this music reached our listeners.
Liebman is another survivor worthy of note. The saxophonist has
devoted his life to taking the jazz message to people worldwide,
both through his playing and his devotion to education. He joined
Ron Bosse and Pursuance for Stellar
Regions, a WWUH benefit concert held at Cheney Hall in
Manchester September 23. This event celebrated the rich legacy of
John Coltrane’s work, but, in the finest jazz tradition, the
participants made music of-the-moment—vibrant, daring and
impassioned. Guitarist Bosse may be young, but he too qualifies as a
survivor; he’s been preaching the jazz gospel non-stop since his
days at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music. In addition to
performing and band leading, Bosse has led his own concert series
and is currently teaching fulltime.
universities celebrated the accomplishments of two other jazz
survivors in 2000. Wesleyan honored Max Roach, one of the music’s
most significant drummers, at a September concert that featured the
master in performance with professors Anthony Braxton and Jay
Hoggard, among others. In November, the University of Hartford
celebrated Professor Jackie McLean’s 30th anniversary
with its Hartt School; McLean founded Hartt’s Department of
African-American Music in 1980 and has been its director ever since.
that month, McLean and his wife Dollie also marked the 30th
anniversary of their beloved Artists Collective, a Hartford-based
teaching institute/performance venue that has received national
recognition for its contributions to cultural education. Mrs. McLean’s
efforts to bring the performing arts—especially jazz—into
children’s’ lives have greatly enhanced the vitality of our
region’s music scene during the past three decades.
the current climate for live jazz in Greater Hartford could hardly
be described as thriving, there are positive vibes in the air once
again. The Hartford Jazz Society has found new strength by
collaborating with other groups, including the Artists Collective
and the Asylum Hill Congregational Church. Main & Hopewell in
South Glastonbury seems to be making an earnest effort to rekindle
their jazz flame. Also, in recent months, the Savannah Restaurant
has been diligently building a successful weekly jazz series in
downtown Hartford on Tuesday nights.
there are several area merchants who deserve survivor awards for
their enthusiastic jazz advocacy over many years. Ed Krech, owner of
Integrity ‘n Music, Greater
Hartford’s only CD/record shop specializing in jazz, has been
doing his thing for a quarter-century. Besides being a longtime
underwriter of 91.3 jazz programs, Mr. Krech recently offered to
sponsor a jazz series at Wilde Auditorium, a stone’s throw from
the WWUH studios, with proceeds to benefit our station. “Stay
tuned” for further details.
Griswold, who works magic on brass instruments at West Hartford
Center’s Horn Shop, is a
longtime ’UH supporter; so is Art Benson, a drum doctor/designer
at Manchester’s Dynamic Percussion. Ditto for Tony Hume, proprietor of The Piano & Organ Warehouse in
keyboards are in attendance at many Connecticut jazz performances.
These gentlemen exemplify the kind of behind-the-scenes dedication
and passion necessary to ensure that you ultimately get to hear
the music, whether in person, on recordings or over the airwaves.
Copyright©WWUH: May/June Program Guide, 2001