On June 27 at the new City Winery on the Hudson River in Manhattan—just above Little Island, billionaire Barry Diller’s whimsical recent addition to the New York riverscape—the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) held its first live in-person event in 16 months: “Spotlight Jazz,” a benefit concert for the JFA’s COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund. The audience was limited in adherence to strict COVID protocols, but the crowd’s enthusiasm and excitement at being in a real venue watching live music again more than made up for the smaller numbers. (I can attest to that personally as I was there; it was also my first time at a live in-person music event in 16 months.)
Just as enthusiastic and excited were the performers, who included harpist Brandee Younger; bassists Peter Washington and Dezron Douglas; drummers Steve Jordan and Joe Farnsworth; pianist Emmet Cohen; pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph; trombonists Clifton Anderson, Steve Davis, Robin Eubanks, and Steve Turre; vocalist/pianist Norah Jones; and JFA Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Slide Hampton and George Coleman.
For all the fans who missed out on this show when it happened, there’s good news: the JFA will be streaming “Spotlight Jazz” online in an edited 90-minute version on Aug. 18 for 24 hours only. Although there’s no charge to watch it, please consider making a donation, as all proceeds benefit the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund, which was established in March 2020 to provide direct financial assistance to musicians and families affected by the pandemic and to help in covering musicians’ basic living expenses, including rent, groceries, and utility bills.
For more information about the Jazz Foundation, visit jazzfoundation.org.