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Cape May Jazz Festival: Still in the Groove

Performances by Yellowjackets, Les McCann with Javon Jackson, Terell Stafford and Ralph Peterson among highlights of festival in scenic Jersey Shore town

Tim Warfield and Pat Bianchi at Cape May Jazz Festival
Ralph Peterson at 2010 Cape May Jazz Festival
The Yellowjackets at 2010 Cape May Jazz Festival
Javon Jackson and David Gilmore at 2010 Cape May Jazz Festival
Les McCann at 2010 Cape May Jazz Festival
Les McCann at 2010 Cape May Jazz Festival
Monnette Sudler at 2010 Cape May Jazz Festival

The Cape May Jazz Festival is truly a gem of an event. Though the festival has had to deal with a certain amount of downsizing and a shift in leadership, it remains a well-organized and enjoyable affair. Although it’s fairly small in scope, the price is reasonable and the talent worthwhile. And the quaint setting of the bucolic Jersey shore town with its old world charm (Victorian architecture, bed & breakfast lodgings, oceanside promenade) in a decidedly offseason mode gives the event the air of a retreat, albeit with one with a mainstream jazz soundtrack.

Originally founded by Carol Stone and Woody Woodard as a bi-annual affair held in the fall and spring, the festival is now in its 17th year. Earlier this year the festival parted ways with it founders in an acrimonious and public split which one festival regular described as like a divorce in which the locals were forced to take one side or the other. However, the show must go on. And go on it did, with much of the original structure and format, as well as the emphasis on both swing and groove jazz styles, intact.

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