I may have overwhelmed readers of this blog with my new enthusiasm for the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, less than a month away. But I hope you understand.
However, when falling in love with something new it would be ungracious in the extreme to forget the familiar — and, in this case, the familiar (but ecstatic) is Joe Boughton’s western New York State extravaganza, Jazz at Chautauqua. This year the dates are September 17-20.
I know all of the reasons people decide not to go to jazz parties. The money. Their health. The potential inconvenience. The economy. And so on. I would be remiss if I suggested that any of these reasons should be ignored. But I am writing this post, of my own accord, to tempt people into Pleasure.
Although at times the modern world seems to be a gaudy hedonistic circus, I still think that Pleasure gets a bad rap. We’re always urged to hang out with Prudence, that rather severe woman in the corner. You know — she’s drinking water when everyone else is having Campari; she doesn’t eat anything fried, ever . . . she knows what’s in her 401K plan to the penny. Prudence will outlive all of us. But is she having any fun? Do her investments make her tap her foot and bob her head?
Here endeth the sermon. I’ll suggest, however, what the Beloved and I are looking forward to at this year’s Chautauqua:
Leaves under our feet in the walkways between the houses. Stories, on and off the bandstand, from that bow-tied master of badinage Marty Grosz. Joe Wilder playing SAMBA DE ORFEU. Jon-Erik Kellso saying naughty things through his plunger mute. Jim Dapogny rocking the piano in the parlor with a song no one’s ever heard before. Newcomers Andy Brown (guitar), Petra van Nuis (vocal), Ehud Asherie (piano), and Tom Pletcher (cornet) making everyone lean forward, intently, when they play. Andy Schumm, Dave Bock, and Tom bringing Bix into the Hotel Athenaeum. Duke Heitger leading the troops through some romping ensemble. Dan Block and Harry Allen caressing a ballad. Rebecca Kilgore being tender or perky, as required. Dan Barrett being himself. Vince Giordano, likewise, and leading the best version of the Nighthawks anyone could imagine.
That’s only a small sampling, and I mean no disrespect to the musicians I’ve left out of my list.
So perhaps you might consider slipping out the side door while dour Prudence squats watchfully in the kitchen, making sure that no one puts butter on their bagel. You can always explain to Prudence when you get back! Tell her that it was your moral duty to be there. Moral duty she understands. And perhaps you can bring her a CD, too.
For details, prices, and availability, you can visit the Allegheny Jazz Society website at www.alleghenyjazz.com, or call the ever affable Apryl Sievert at the Hotel Athenaeum (1-800-821-1881.) Remember, no one has yet invented a way to make carpe diem work retrospectively.