Howard Mandel’s review of the Brubeck Festival

Marsalis in Stockton, the Dave Brubeck Institute and Take Five 

It was a big deal in Stockton, CA last Friday, when Wynton Marsalis led his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at the 12th annual jazz festival produced by the Brubeck Institute at University of the Pacific.  The ticket holders’ line to enter the nicely restored Fox movie palace — now the Bob Hope Theatre, in the center of otherwise near-dead downtown — stretched around the block. The marquee was bright, and under it flowed well-dressed attendees of nearly all ages and many colors, quite festive mere days before they’d hear whether their city could enter bankruptcy. Stockton’s had the highest foreclosure rate in the country after the 2008 mortgage crisis, city services have been cut back, residents have fled, poverty’s become noticeable, crime’s on the rise . . .

But it was a clear, promising spring night, and all worries were suspended. Dave Brubeck, the iconic jazz pianist/composer/bandleader who died last December at age 91, grew up on a ranch outside Stockton, attended the school when it was still called College of the Pacific, met his wife Iola at the campus (a wall plaque commemorates the occasion), and personified the kind of can-do, confidently outgoing spirit we like to think of as quintessentially American. People in Stockton don’t give up, they hunker down. Wynton Marsalis is possessed of that, too — accepting the challenges and responsibilities of being an artist in the limelight, almost always being on, making time everywhere for extra events like the hour-long public question-and-answer session he did here with honors students who he addressed spontaneously, candidly, seemed to personally enjoy. His concert with the Orchestra, the last stop of a six-week tour, was hallmarked by other qualities Brubeck shared and would have admired: integrity, virtuosity, direct address plus a measure of daring.

Read the entire post on Howard Mandel’s blog: 

Jazz Beyond Jazz: Howard Mandel’s Urban Improvisation


I’m a Chicago-born and New York-based writer, editor, author, arts reporter/producer for radio including NPR, and nascent videographer — for more than 30 years, a freelance arts journalist working on newspapers, magazines and websites, appearing on tv and radio, teaching at New York University and elsewhere. I’m president of the Jazz Journalists Association; my books are Future Jazz (Oxford U Press, 1999) and Miles Ornette Cecil – Jazz Beyond Jazz (Routledge, 2008). I was general editor of the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues (Flame Tree 2005/Billboard Books 2006) Read More…



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