More bad news for people who like their jazz in profusion over one weekend: the Sacramento Music Festival, once known as the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, will not continue on next year. Here is the whole story.
An observant person could tell the reasons for this decision, and they are primarily financial: festivals are terribly expensive to run, and the ratio between costs and audience was not always encouraging. I am sad to read this, because in the past six months a number of festivals have said goodbye. I won’t mount the soapbox and harangue readers who had said, “Oh, I’ll go next year,” but the moral — carpe diem over a swinging 4/4 — is clear.
My videos — about one hundred and fifty — show that I attended the SJJ in 2011, 12, and 14. It was an unusual event. I seem to remember racing from one side of the causeway (if that is what it was called) to the other for sets, and scurrying (that’s not true — I don’t really scurry) from one venue to another. There was an astonishing amount of good music in the years I attended, and some very lovely performances took place in the oddest venues.
Here are more than a half-dozen splendid performances, so we can grieve for the loss of a festival while at the same time smiling and swinging.
From 2011, TRUCKIN’ by Hal Smith’s International Sextet:
and one of my favorite 1926 songs, HE’S THE LAST WORD:
The Jubilee also made room for pretty ballads like this one, featuring John Cocuzzi, Jennifer Leitham, and Johnny Varro:
A year later, Rebecca Kilgore was HUMMIN’ TO HERSELF:
Marc Caparone doffs his handmade cap to Louis for HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH:
Another pretty one — MORE THAN YOU KNOW — featuring Allan Vache:
and some Orientalia out of doors — SAN by the Reynolds Brothers and Clint Baker:
A nice medium blues by Dan Barrett and Rossano Sportiello:
THE BOB AND RAY SHOW in 2014 — Schulz and Skjelbred, performing SHOE SHINE BOY:
CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS, featuring Dave Stone and Russ Phillips with Vince Bartels and Johnny Varro:
and an extended performance by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs from 2014:
One of my favorite stories — a Louise Hay affirmation of sorts — comes from the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. It was held over Memorial Day weekend, and there was riotous excitement on the days preceding Monday — but Sacramento on Memorial Day was one of the most deserted urban centers I’ve ever encountered. The nice Vietnamese restaurant I had hopes of returning to was shuttered for the holiday, the streets were quiet with only the intermittent homeless person taking his ease. Since I have been a New Yorker all my life, the criminal offense termed “jaywalking” does not terrify me. On one such Monday, the light was red against me but there were no cars in sight. Full of assurance, I strolled across the street and made eye contact with a young woman standing — a law-abiding citizen — on the opposite curb. When I reached her and grinned at her legal timidity, she looked disapprovingly at me and said, “Rule-breaker!” I grinned some more and replied, “Free spirit!”
At its best, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee inspired such free-spirited behavior, musical and otherwise — among dear friends. Adieu, adieu!
May your happiness increase!