It’s been a good news/bad news/good news week for jazz.
In Canada, TD Bank Financial Group became the new title sponsor of the multimillion-dollar Montreal Jazz Festival, after General Motors of Canada backed out.
Here at home, the National Endowment for the Arts released the results of its 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. (View a summary and/or download the highlights here.) In short, most art forms are suffering. Attendance rates for jazz and classical music have declined the most since 1982. And while jazz once drew the youngest adult audience (median age 29), the median age of jazz concertgoers today is 46.
Back on the bright side, CareFusion Corp., a San Diego-based medical technology firm, has announced that it will sponsor a jazz festival in New York next year, replacing the now-defunct JVC jazz fest. It will also sponsor this year’s Newport Jazz Festival in August, the Chicago Jazz Festival in September, a venue at the Monterey Jazz Festival, also in September, and festivals in Australia and Paris. CareFusion has partnered with octogenarian jazz impresario George Wein, who will produce the Newport and New York events.
Speaking of the NEA, a chunk of the $50,000 stimulus grant awarded the Minnesota Orchestral Association will support its artistic director for jazz position for 2009-10.
And about that aging audience: True, a lot of 50-somethings show up at the Dakota and the Artists’ Quarter. But the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in June drew a mixed crowd, as did the Iowa City Jazz Festival last weekend. Plenty of 20-somethings were standing in front of the Iowa City stage, blocking my view of Bill Frisell.
Jazz picks for the weekend and into next week:
The Javier Santiago Experiment. Jazz audiences may be aging, but there are plenty of young jazz artists performing. Pianist Santiago and his quartet — bassist Chris Smith, drummer Miguel Hurtado and saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom — are all in their 20s. Santiago, Smith and Hurtado are graduates of Minneapolis South High School. Santiago and Smith both attended the prestigious Brubeck Institute and are continuing their jazz studies at the New School in Manhattan; Hurtado is attending the Manhattan School of Music; Hedenstrom, originally from St. Paul, is a recent University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire grad. They’re home for the summer and staying up late. Saturday, July 11, 11:30 p.m., Dakota, $5.
Steve Smith’s Vital Information. Some of us will remember Steve Smith as the drummer for the stadium rock group Journey. Jazz was his first love, and that’s what he plays today. Vital Information is his soul-jazz-funk-fusion group, with Tom Coster on keyboards, Baron Browne on bass and Vinny Valentino on guitar. Never, ever a dull moment. Watch a slightly different configuration (Bill Evans on saxes, Frank Gamble on guitar) here. Sunday, July 12, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Dakota, $30/$20.
Julian Lage Group. Another youngster, guitarist Lage is barely out of his teens. He started playing at 5; by 8, he was playing with Carlos Santana. His debut CD, “Sounding Point,” was just released on Emarcy. Hear selections and an interview with NPR’s Liane Hansen here. Lage is touring with his band: Jorge Roeder on bass, Ben Roseth on saxophones, Aristides Rivas on cello, Tupac Mantilla on percussion. Tuesday, July 14, 7 and 9:30 p.m. ($18/$12); Wednesday, July 15, 7 p.m. ($18). Dakota.