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Report: New York Winter Jazzfest 2013

New music, new venues and colossal crowds

The Fringe at the Culture Project Theater, NYC Winter Jazzfest 2013
Kneebody at the Culture Project Theater, NYC Winter Jazzfest 2013

On the cover of the Jan. 10-16 issue of Time Out New York, atop promises of articles on “Shockingly Healthy Meals” and “TV-Viewing Parties,” a line reads: “Winter Jazzfest: What to See.” For a jazz festival to receive such a sizable plug in New York’s smartly crafted listings bible might seem strange. But Winter Jazzfest, which took place at six Lower Manhattan venues on Jan. 11 and 12, transcends jazz in terms of audience.

In its ninth year, it still operates as a supplementary showcase for the conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. Among jazz insiders, it’s a place to hear what the music’s young (or at least youthful) vanguard has been up to. And, increasingly, it’s a part of the city’s larger nightlife landscape. Without booking proper headliners or straight pop acts, WJF attracts an enviable amount of attention from the general public. All of which equals impressive attendance-this event’s perennial virtue and vice. According to organizers, Friday, Jan. 11, was nearly sold out with roughly 2,200 attendees throughout the night. On Saturday the festival achieved its earliest sellout ever around 7:30 p.m., and attendance ran toward 2,500. In all, the 2013 festival accommodated about 5,000 to last year’s 4,000.

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