Although it’s only the end of April, I am excited when I think about Jazz at Chautauqua, once again, which is a highlight of the musical year. I’ve been attending these splendid parties since 2004, and have made new friends, heard excellent music, and generally had my spirits lifted.
This year, the 16th Jazz at Chautauqua will take place from September 19 to the 22nd. For more information, click here. For those who have never attended one of these weekends, it is marked by pleasures unique to that spot and that establishment.
It’s held in a beautiful 1881 wooden hotel, the Athaeneum, efficiently run by Bruce Stanton and a very genial staff — the very opposite of an anonymous chain hotel. Walking around the grounds (when you’re not observing the beauties of Lake Chautauqua — which might include Scott and Sharon Robinson, canoeing) you see immaculately kept houses and cottages, mounds of hydrangeas . . . picture-postcard territory. Inside, the guests enjoy substantial meals and an open bar . . . and music to dream about, starting on Thursday night with informal jamming in a cozy room, then moving to the parlor for Friday afternoon piano and guitar recitals, then a full weekend of jazz, hot and sweet, in a large ballroom — with all the amenities a ten-second walk away.
The best musicians, too. The 2013 players and singers are (in neat alphabetical order for a change) Howard Alden, Harry Allen, Dan Barrett, Dan Block, Jon Burr, James Dapogny, the Faux Frenchmen, Mike Greensill, Marty Grosz, Bob Havens, Duke Heitger, Keith Ingham, Jon-Erik Kellso, Becky Kilgore, Dan Levinson, Kerry Lewis, Ricky Malichi, Randy Reinhart, Scott Robinson, Andy Schumm, John Sheridan, Pete Siers, Rossano Sportiello, Andy Stein, Frank Tate, John Von Ohlen, Wesla Whitfield. Something for everyone. Good men and women, loyal, faithful, and true.
Nancy Griffith, the Swing Sheriff, makes sure that the jazz train runs on time, that everyone is happy in Dodge, that the little dogies are swinging.
If Jazz at Chautauqua is new to you, I propose that you type those magic words into the “Search” box of JAZZ LIVES — and you will see beautifully relaxed performances from the most recent five years . . . then you can go here and look into the details of tickets and prices and all that intriguing (but necessary) detail.
And as the video-soundtrack to such endeavors, let me offer two performances from the 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua — never seen before! — by a strolling group: Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Frank Tate, string bass; Bill Ransom, drums:
LULU’S BACK IN TOWN:
CLOSE YOUR EYES:
May your happiness increase.