The Last Outdoor All-Day Festival

jazz logo  In spite of the fact that I no longer had Mario’s financial support I decided to go ahead with the all-day festival in June 1989. Was I just too stubborn to realize that none of the preceding six festivals had ever broken even? Or was it a matter of pride?  Did I want to prove to him that I could carry on without his help? If that was my reasoning, it seems a  little childish, as I write about it 25 years later.

Father's Day Festival

Father’s Day Festival
photograph by Ruth Williams

We were again at the Jewish Community Center which was a good venue for this kind of event. I chose June 18 which was “Father’s Day.” I thought the festival would offer a fun family activity, a special way to celebrate Father’s Day. Eric Jackson agreed to act as MC and brought his father, Sam Jackson, along.

Eric and Sam Jackson

Eric and Sam Jackson
photograph by Ruth Williams

We offered a discount to any father who attended.  In spite of some excellent previews in the local newspapers the crowd was smaller than the year before.

The holiday actually turned out to be a poor choice for a jazz festival. I learned that people don’t go to jazz festivals to celebrate Father’s Day. Mother’s Day would have been a much worse choice, but Father’s Day was a close second.

Lew Tabackin

Lew Tabackin
photograph by Ruth Williams

For the first time I hired a nationally known musician as headliner: Lou Tabackin, a premier saxophonist/flutist who was voted First Place Flute for four successive years by Downbeat critics and readers. He was internationally known for his work in small groups and with the big band which he co-led with his wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi. Even with Lew on the program we didn’t attract enough people to break even.

Lew Tabackin

Lew Tabackin in motion
photograph by Ruth Williams

Lew played in a trio with John Lockwood and Alan Dawson. According to  Daniel Gewertz who reviewed the show “…the trio setting was ideal to show off (his) unique blend of muscular power and melodic inventiveness.”

Lew Tabackin in trio

Lew Tabackin with John Lockwood and Alan Dawson        photograph by Ruth Williams

Tabackin chose a set of compositions all associated with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  About “Cottontail” Gewertz wrote “this was a high-jumping showcase for drummer Alan Dawson and bassist John Lockwood. Though the pace was ferocious, they never sounded frenetic. Dawson and Lockwood are both richly melodic rhythm men.”

John Lockwood

John Lockwood at festival  photograph by Ruth Williams

Alan Dawson

Alan Dawson at festival
photograph by Ruth Williams

Paul Broadnax

Paul Broadnax
photograph by Ruth Williams

Alex Elin

Alex Elin
photograph by Ruth Williams

Peter Kontrimas

Peter Kontrimas with Paul Broadnax Quartet
photograph by Ruth Williams

The festival also featured three local quartets one led by Paul Broadnax, another by Alex Elin and a third by Mike Metheny. Paul included vibraphonist Lou Magnano in his group. Grey Sargent was part of Alex’s quartet. Except for the singing of pianist Paul Broadnax I didn’t have a vocalist on the program. Perhaps that was another reason for the smaller crowd. This roster appealed to the jazz purists, lovers of acoustic mainstream.

Lou Magnano

Lou Magnano
photograph by Ruth Williams

Where are they now?

Lou Magnano died in an automobile accident in the fall of 1989. Dave Trefethen wrote this about him- “His personality really came out through his music, his movements, his touch. Lou was just as enthusiastic about playing with a novice as with an old pro.”

Lew Tabackin is very active, appearing both nationally and internationally. He is based in New York and frequently plays at the most prestigious clubs there.  His web site is full of up-to-date information about him. This video features him with a big band.

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