On Saturday, the heart of York will have a jazz beat as the first York Jazz Fest slides into the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.
Performances and food tastings will be held throughout the Strand, from a stage cabaret to the donor lounge and lobby, starting at 2 p.m. An all-star ensemble with Tim Warfield, Amy Banks, Steve Meashey, Byron Landham and guest pianist Orrin Evans will close out the show at 4 p.m. The timing will allow attendees to explore more of downtown York's music and food offerings in the evening.
Kelley Gibson, who is assisting with organizing the event, recalls the seed for this initial jazz fest.
“About two years ago, they held a free jazz concert featuring Jeff (Stabley) and Tim Warfield at the Strand, and it was so packed that they decided they needed to celebrate the myriad of great jazz musicians that are in York and play around here, so that's how the concept of the York Jazz Fest was formed,” she writes.
This time around, Stabley will be there again, performing with Compound. Why now?
“It's always a good time for jazz to happen,” Stabley writes. “It is particularly rife now because of the success of the First Friday events sponsored by York City and hosted by the Strand.”
Whether attendees are familiar with jazz or new to the form, the jazz fest offers options to suit.
“This will be a diverse day of music,” Stabley writes. “Ron Waters and Jim Woods are jazz icons and will be performing classic jazz in a duo setting. The all-star group includes talent that is not to be missed — world-class musicians. They are modern masters of the art form. There will also be jazz-funk fusion with Extremity, hip-hop jazz with Compound and jazz from a younger musician's viewpoint with Time Out.”
Age is just a number: Fourteen-year-old Cole Sipe of Time Out hopes audience members take away an awareness that age doesn't matter. He wants them to walk out knowing “they really enjoyed the music and that it doesn't matter how old (the musicians) are — it's just as good as it would be anywhere else.”
The five members of Time Out “like all types of music,” Cole says. “We don't really like to label ourselves as a jazz band; funk and rock, we like that a lot too.”
But jazz allows them freedom. Asked what he likes about jazz, Cole instinctively responds, “I don't know; probably that you can do whatever you want to and it still sounds OK.”
Stabley's dive into creating on the beat also started early.
“I remember the feeling when as a student in the middle school band, I was told by the director that I didn't have to read what was on the page. That was very liberating and exciting for me as a drummer,” he writes. “In jazz, one is asked to practice the instrument and learn the theory, then put that all aside and spontaneously create music, the hope being that those that hear it will recognize the feelings that are being expressed.”
Creativity: Musicians melding their creativity is the key to jazz for Stabley.
“Jazz music is different than other art forms in that there is more than one person creating at the same time in a shared timeline. Interplay and togetherness are huge aspects of the music,” he writes. “I am blessed to play on a regular basis with musicians who inspire and encourage me. Many of them are performing at the concert. ... For me, collaborating with other musicians is what music is all about.”
For York Jazz Fest, the day is all about introducing the audience to the hospitality, food and music abounding in York, building on the First Friday jazz concerts. Stabley has hopes for post-festival jazz in York, too.
“If people continue to attend the (First Friday jazz) performances, they will continue. There is a buzz that weekly jazz will start up again in York,” he writes. “If and when it does, it is up to the public to make it work.”
— Reach Michelle Denise Norton at 854-1575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Going to the festival
The York Jazz Fest goes from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.
The event includes food samples from York Blue Moon, Central Family Restaurant, Roosevelt Tavern, The Busy Bee, White Rose Bar & Grill, Bair's Fried Chicken, The Pie Shop and Culinary Creations.
Amy Banks will serve as the master of ceremonies. Additional performers include Time Out, Tim Warfield, Steve Meashey, Byron Landham, Orrin Evans, Jeff Stabley and others.
Tickets are $35.
For more information, call 846-1111 or visit www.strandcapitol.org.