It isn’t every day that five major jazz artists appear on one stage in the context of a single show. And it definitely isn’t every day that a jazz concert is presented based on a film—if it has ever happened at all. On Sunday night, June 24th, one lucky audience experienced both when the JVC Jazz Festival presented five of the jazz legends profiled in Spanish director Fernando Trueba’s film Calle 54 (54th Street), which opened in New York last October. The four-hour concert, which was held at the Beacon Theatre featured (in order of appearance): Jerry González and the Fort Apache Band, Eliane Elias, Gato Barbieri, Michel Camilo and Paquito D’Rivera.
In fact, Sunday night’s performance was probably a first in JVC Jazz Festival history. “We have, for years, produced a show with Ralph Mercado, the Latin music impresario,” says Dan Melnick of Festival Productions, Inc. But in all of the Latin shows FPI has done, with Mercado or otherwise, they have had “maybe two Latin groups or a Latin group plus a jazz group—nothing like Sunday night.”