Sunday, June 20, 2010

Calgary Jazz Festival ???

The Calgary Jazz Festival was due to start tomorrow and I was enthusiastically looking forward to taking in concerts every evening, catching some great music and blogging about my overall experience this week. There looked to be a stellar line-up of world-class Jazz musicians scheduled to perform (ie. Chick Corea, Joshua Redman, Cedar Walton, Poncho Sanchez and more...) as well as a very talented pool of local and Canadian Jazz artists.

Unfortunately the latest reports from the CBC are that the 2010 Calgary Jazz Festival has now been cancelled:

I've heard bits and pieces about the problems that the festival has been dealing with lately but was shocked that they pulled the plug on the festival literally the day before it was due to start !

I'm not in a position to point fingers or judge precisely why this has happened however I feel very badly for all the musicians who were due to perform and are now left hanging. As a professional musician who has toured extensively and occasionally has had to deal with last minute show cancellations while on the road, I can sincerely say this....that it sucks !

Overall, this current situation is very disappointing and I'm sure that the fallout from this will have some long term repercussions.

Fortunately, according to their e-newsletter I received this afternoon, our local Calgary Jazz club, The Beatniq, will still be honoring it's bookings this week and will feature drummer Terry Clarke and his trio (featuring Terry Clarke on drums, Phil Dwyer on saxophone and Don Thompson on bass), Montreal saxophonist Andre LeRoux and Toronto bassist Rich Brown's band Rinsethealgorhythm. I'm happy to see that at least some portion of the festival will be salvaged and feature some of the outstanding Canadian Jazz musicians that are touring this summer. Unfortunately, however, this doesn't help any of the local musicians who had contracts for other gigs elsewhere during the festival.

I will certainly attend what concerts I can this week and support what's left of this year's festival and blog about the music I do hear this week. I'm wondering out loud here if anything else will still go on despite the festival being cancelled. The nightly sessions at the Auburn Saloon ? (I was scheduled to play there with pianist Egor Ukoloff and Simon Fisk on bass on Wednesday night) What about the Drip Audio Nights series scheduled for the Palamino ? If anyone hears anything about what's happening this week besides the shows at the Beatniq, please let me know.

Overall this is a serious blow to the Calgary Jazz scene - and I should add that I do think Calgary deserves AND can support a properly run and quality Jazz festival. There is indeed an audience for this music here and a healthy scene of great jazz musicians here in Calgary to draw from.

Perhaps some good will eventually come of this situation and allow for local musicians and Jazz enthusiasts to take a hard look at the current situation and come up with some tangible and realistic solutions towards presenting Jazz music in Calgary in a responsible and sustainable manner.

It can be done....Edmonton faced a similar situation a number of years ago and after much re-structuring their Jazz festival is now thriving. Smaller communities such as Medicine Hat and Saskatoon can also support Jazz festivals so there is no reason it can't be done here.

Ironically, the Calgary Jazz Festival collapsed in 2006 and was salvaged at the last minute by a different group of organizers. However, I would be surprised if the festival were to be rescued again this late in the game....

In the meantime, Calgary's Jazz fans will have to wait at least another year to see a local Jazz festival....or travel to Edmonton or Medicine Hat to get their fill !

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