Cambridge Jazz Festival celebrates sixth year
On Sunday, July 28, the Cambridge Jazz Festival brought the sweet sounds of Ellington and Fitzgerald to Danehy Park. For the sixth year, the festival delivered six hours of high-quality jazz music to the community during the free event.
Former Cambridge City Councilor Larry Ward and Ron Savage, all-star drummer and dean of the professional performance division at Berklee College of Music, created the festival in 2014. That year, 2,500 people attended, despite rain throughout the day. Since then, that community commitment has only grown, and it has become the largest jazz festival in the history of Cambridge, according to the festival literature.
This year’s lineup featured Yoko Miwa, Eguie Castrillo, Ron Savage Trio, Carla Cook and Elan Trotman. Cook had never played the Cambridge Jazz Festival before, but she has a long history of performing with Ron Savage. “Ron Savage is one of my favorite drummers ever,” says Cook. “I hope the reunion and the good feelings that are on stage translate.”
The festival also offered a series of events on Saturday, July 27, including a panel on gender inequity in jazz featuring Terri Lyne Carrington, Doris Duke Prize winner and three-time Grammy winner; Aja Burrell-Wood, managing director at Berklee’s Institute Of Jazz And Gender Justice; Janet Moses, civil rights activist; and Ron Savage. A performance by an international ensemble of musicians organized by Carrington followed the panel.
This educational component was further emphasized at the festival with an exhibition displaying photos and bios of pioneering jazz musicians throughout history. For Cook, who is also an educator at Temple U niversity, this edification is as important as the music itself. “This is very much a living art form and I love to see young people, especially, getting excited about seeing it, playing it and learning about it,” she says.
In addition to the music and the exhibition, the festival featured a number of food and craft vendors from local businesses. Despite the heat, a large crowd turned out for the event.
Cook says that sometimes concerts and festivals like this one are as simple as a community of people enjoying themselves. “I think great music speaks for itself,” she says. “The country, if not the world, is under a bit of stress right now. And I’d like to take everybody away from that for about an hour. And I’d like to leave everybody feeling real good.”