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The Omicron Effect: Postponements and Cancellations in the Jazz Community

A rundown of various scheduling changes for concerts and events affected by the recent surge in COVID cases

Chick Corea
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s live Chick Corea tribute has been rescheduled for April (photo courtesy of Chick Corea Productions)

As a result of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, several jazz organizations and presenters have had to pivot and reschedule their upcoming in-person events from January and February, in a sad reprise of 2020-2021. Below are a few such events that have come to our attention recently. This situation is quite fluid, but we will do our best to update this report regularly.

The Village Vanguard
Temporarily closed (will reopen Jan. 25)
New York City
Because of the surge in COVID cases in New York City, the venerable jazz club shut its doors temporarily after one week of the Kenny Barron Trio in late December. The Vanguard is set to reopen on Jan. 25 with a run by the Vijay Iyer Trio, featuring Linda May Han Oh and Tyshawn Sorey.

Jack Rudin Jazz Championships
Jan. 10-11, 2022 (Apr. 19-20, 2022)
Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City
This competition features ensembles from 10 university jazz programs throughout the U.S. and includes a combo showcase in JALC’s Appel Room and a final concert featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in the Rose Theater.

Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival
Jan. 12-15, 2022 (Mar. 17-19, 2022)
New Orleans Jazz Museum, New Orleans, La.
The festival has been postponed until March, but the Snug Harbor club will still host the annual Danny Barker Birthday Tribute Concert on Jan. 13 with two sets by the Danny Barker Tribute Band, featuring Detroit Brooks, Don Vappie, Dr. Michael White, Greg Stafford, Freddie Lonzo, Steve Pistorius, Mitchell Player, Herman LeBeaux, and special guest Topsy Chapman.

Winter Jazzfest
Jan. 13-22, 2022 (Jan. 14-22, 2022 – all online/in-person event TBA later in year)
Various venues, New York City
The presenters of Winter Jazzfest announced that it was pivoting to an all-online event during roughly the same period as the originally scheduled version, which was to have been held at various venues in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. (This sprawling festival has traditionally been adjacent in time to both the APAP  and Jazz Congress conferences.) The virtual WJF will feature over 30 different groups and 150 musicians performing from cities all over the world including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Johannesburg, Miami, St. Louis, Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and more. Additional performances are to be rescheduled for the spring.


Celebrating Chick Corea
Jan. 13-14, 2022 (Apr. 15-16, 2022)
Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City
This special tribute to the pianist, curated by John Patitucci, features an all-star lineup including Christian McBride, Hubert Laws, Béla Fleck, Wynton Marsalis, Renee Rosnes, Billy Childs, and many more. 

The Jazz Cruise
Jan. 17-24, 2022 (Jan. 6-13, 2023)
Sailing from Miami to the Caribbean on the Celebrity Millennium
Since 2001 the Jazz Cruises organization (formerly Entertainment Cruise Productions) has annually produced The Jazz Cruise, featuring more than 100 musicians and over 250 hours of live jazz. In addition, they produce Blue Note at Sea and multiple sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise. After the CDC’s recent warning, they decided to cancel the four upcoming sailings of jazz-themed cruises in 2022, but will return in 2023 with successive sailings of The Jazz Cruise, Blue Note at Sea, and two editions of The Smooth Jazz Cruise.

SFJAZZ Gala Honoring Wynton Marsalis
Jan. 26, 2022 (June 3, 2022)
SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco, Calif.
The SFJAZZ organization’s annual benefit gala was set to honor Wynton Marsalis with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Because of safety concerns, the event has been moved to June 3, and will feature exclusive performances from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Marsalis, SFJAZZ Collective, SFJAZZ High School All-Stars, and more. The concerts by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra scheduled for Jan. 27-30 at the SFJAZZ Center will go on as planned. So will all regular programming at SFJAZZ’s various venues, although as of Feb. 1, attendees must show proof of vaccination including a booster.