During the coronavirus pandemic, the Jazz Arts Group helped the public stay in touch with their interior Duke Ellington, Count Basie or Dave Brubeck.
Thanks to limited capacity concerts, a surprise visit from the great jazzman Wynton Marsalis, numerous Facebook livestreams and a solid virtual presence on its online performance hub, JAG TV, the group – the parent organization of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra – has reached countless residents of central Ohio.
Still, Jazz Arts Group executives say there is no substitute for live performances at full capacity – the genre set to return this fall for the organization’s 49th season.
âIt’s like going to church,â said Byron Stripling, artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. âYou fill up with gas and get inspired. “
Return to “the church of jazz”
For its 2021-22 season, the Jazz Arts Group will resume regular performances at the Southern Theater and the Lincoln Theater. The hope is that the restrictions of the pandemic era will be a thing of the past and that members of the public – or should we call them jazz parishioners? – will come back en masse.
“We hope people will want to ‘come to church’ – the church of jazz,” said Stripling.
The Columbus Jazz Orchestra will give five concerts at the Southern Theater, three of which test the limits of what is considered jazz, traditional or not.
âWe’re genre progressive, more likely than any jazz band,â Stripling said. “Jazz is my heart – it’s my being, it’s who I am – but I’m always interested in how we can organically merge things.”
To this end, from October 14 to 17, the orchestra will welcome saxophonist Patrick Bartley Jr. and singer Lena Seikaly to perform works from the Great American Songbook by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and other composers.
Then, from March 10 to 13, the musicians who will play with the Rolling Stones – singer Bernard Fowler and saxophonist Tim Ries – will add authenticity to “The Rolling Stones Project”, with jazz arrangements of tunes. classics of the Stones.
And, from April 14 to 17, the season will end with âSinatra! With Tony DeSare â, in which the singer and pianist will summon the spirit of Ol ‘Blue Eyes.
âOur audiences just love good music,â Stripling said of this season’s eclectic concerts. “If we put something up there and it’s really good, they go and they’re happy.”
Other offerings from the orchestra include the annual âHome for the Holidaysâ concert with singer Vanessa Campagna (December 1-5); and a romantic duet program with singers Carly Thomas Smith and Bruce Wermuth, âValentine Romanceâ (February 10-13).
Guest artists from outside will be on hand for concerts at the Lincoln Theater: saxophonist Chris Coles (October 28), Pharez Whitted Quartet (January 22), pianist Benny Green and saxophonist Joel Frahm (March 24) and the singer Ashley Pezzotti (April 28).
Following the introduction of JAG TV last season, the organization will be broadcasting a live performance by program at www.jag.tv; executives hope that some concerts, or parts of them, will also be available for viewing on demand.
âIt really broadened our audience,â said Press Southworth III, CEO of Jazz Arts Group. âThere was some advantage in terms of donors because it had a multi-state reach. There are a number of people who have retired or left Columbus who are big fans, and now they can participate.
Yet virtual visualization does not yet replace, economically or otherwise, in-person experiences.
âIt generated cash flow,â Southworth said. “But … we were down over $ 800,000 in terms of earned income.”
He added, “A single gig would make more money than this whole live broadcast.”
And, for Stripling and his fellow musicians, the appeal of live programming over virtual programming is even more fundamental.
âFor us, that’s what we do,â Stripling said. âYou always ask yourself the question: ‘Is what I’m doing relevant for culture and society?’ We get a big âyesâ when we know there is a concert season and we know there are dedicated followers who will buy those tickets. “
In one look
The Jazz Arts Group will present its 2021-22 season at the Southern Theater, 21 E. Main St., and the Lincoln Theater, 769 E. Long St. Single tickets – $ 10 to $ 68 for Columbus Jazz Orchestra concerts at the Southern Theater ; $ 20 for Lincoln Theater concerts – goes on sale August 15. Subscriptions are on sale now. Some performances will be broadcast live at www.jag.tv. For more information visit www.jazzartsgroup.org.