NPR logo Photos: The Undead Jazzfest 2010*

Photos: The Undead Jazzfest 2010*

What is the Undead Jazzfest? A two-night, three-venue, 36-act response to the trope that "jazz is dead." Ben Ratliff's spot-on writeup for The New York Times explains further. I met Ratliff during the festival, and asked his opinion of what he had seen so far. He told me something to the effect of "this is exactly what we need." I very much agree.

Packed crowds filled with people both young and old, coming to hear a variety of new expressions in the music. Musicians sticking around to hear their friends or new friends play, even if they weren't performing during the festival. An atmosphere where you wanted to see sets even if they were overcrowded, sweaty, late at night and impossible to get a good sightline. An outrageous deal, at $30 for two entire nights of music. A model which, demonstrably, can even be replicated from time to time.

At the 2010 Winter Jazz Fest, a similar event even larger in scale, the biggest complaint I heard was that this sort of thing didn't happen more frequently. We got our collective wish, and I must say that it was a good one.


*Or at least the ones I took and annotated before my camera battery died and I stupidly didn't bring a spare. With apologies to the photogenic and captivating sets of Tim Berne's Los Totopos, Happy Apple, The Thirteenth Assembly and Gerald Cleaver's Violet Hour.

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