I would like to take credit for meticulously scheduling the 2014 Steel City Jazz Festival in such a way that the acts booked together not only compliment one another musically, but also in an arrangement that is poignant and meaningful in some way to the overall arc of the festival. If I did though I’d be lying to you: we cross our fingers and hope that our available dates match up with the artists’, and whatever sticks is the schedule we get. Maybe some day we will have this jazz-festival-planning business down well enough for higher philosophical concerns, but that day is a long way off. Still, I do think there’s nice balance to the way our schedule worked out this year. The Hamilton Dixieland All-Stars, who closed the 2013 Steel City Jazz Festival, opened this year’s festival. And Quarter to Nine, who played our opening night two Augusts ago, are wrapping up this year with a performance, tonight, at the Pearl Company.
I might be the only one who notices these small serendipities, but it’s the last day of the festival so I feel it’s not a bad time to take a broader view of the Steel City Jazz Festival so far. And there are other ways in which tonight’s lineup is a fitting end to another year of Steel City Jazz. The first group on the bill, the Messore-Palka Quintet, is made up of students from Mohawk College. Mohawk students and faculty, past and present, make up a pretty hefty percentage of all our performers. I am consistently awed by the talent and maturity of the musicians who have studied there, and I am thrilled to host them at the Steel City Jazz Festival. So I’m glad to have the Messore-Palka Quintet with us tonight, and I’m sure you will be too.
I am equally excited to present Quarter to Nine, led by vocalist Shari Vandermolen, because I feel this group also represents an essential part of how the festival has grown. Shari contacted me early on in the planning process this year, and has been extremely supportive in the development of this year’s festival. When I started planning the festival last year, I had very little idea what I was doing. It was only through reaching out to people in the community (and having people reach out to me) that I slowly pieced together a festival. In hindsight, I wouldn’t do it any other way. Of course, the fact that the music kicks ass doesn’t hurt either.
I hope you’ll come join us tonight at the Pearl Company to celebrate the end of the 2014 Steel City Jazz Festival and experience the amazing talents of Quarter to Nine and the Messore-Palka Quintet. The show starts at 7:30pm, tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or in advance online here. See you at the show!