I was chatting with a festival fan recently who told me she was at the very first Litchfield Jazz Festival. She came on her own and sat right up front. That’s the beautiful thing about jazz AND life— you don’t have to be half of a matched set to enjoy it. I reminded her that festival had loads of artists she did not know.
That first year, there were only two uber-famous performers, JJ Johnson and Ahmad Jamal. Most of the rest of the lineup were little known. I told her proudly, “They’re all stars today, those unknowns.”
That festival in 1996 presented the freshly minted piano playing vocalist, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Renee Rosnes, Peter Bernstein, Mark Turner, Terence Blanchard, Steve Johns, Mary Ehrlich, Larry Goldings, (who brought his own organ because we couldn’t afford a rental), Russell Malone and many other sidemen who are today’s top leaders.
So I let my fan-friend know there would be a few famous people at this 22nd Litchfield Jazz Festival this August 5& 6 and there would be lots of artists she’d probably never heard of. Then I advised her, as I do you now, “Come for the folks you don’t know.” That’s where the fun is, the thrill of “Discovering Genius.”