The jazz festival season is heating up for the summer of 2000 as many venues across the U.S. and around the world prepare to celebrate the musical legacy of Louis Armstrong.
The late New Orleans trumpeter is receiving a two-year centennial celebration -- due to disagreement over his birth date. For many years, the world believed that Armstrong was born on July 4, 1900.
A dozen years ago, it was documented that he was born on August 4, 1901 in a ramshackle house in New Orleans. Some now speculate that Armstrong listed July 4th, 1900 as his birth date when he registered for the draft in 1918 because he wanted a date everyone would remember.
As it turned out, the man the world knew as "Satchmo" would be known for much more -- and his great musical contributions will be remembered across Europe, at scattered U.S. festivals and at North America's premiere summer jazz event, the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
This year's Bell Atlantic Jazz Fest included an Armstrong segment in its road show stops in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia during May.
"To Louis Armstrong," a work written and directed by Roz Nixon, will have another performance on June 2 at The Knitting Factory in New York. It will feature Melba Joyce on vocals, Roy Hargrove on trumpet, John Hicks on piano, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums, Christian McBride on bass and Wycliffe Gordon on trombone.
On July 3, the Montreal International Jazz Festival will honor Armstrong as the most influential figure in jazz history with an all-star trumpet summit led by Jon Faddis. Other participants will include Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff and Terell Stafford plus pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash.
In June and July, trumpeter Nicholas Payton is scheduled to participate in several Louis Armstrong Centennial Celebration Concerts in Delaware, Indiana and Michigan, as well as Montreal, before embarking on a three-week European tour.
In New Orleans this August 5-6, there's even a Satchmo Summerfest at the Old Mint. The two-day event is scheduled to feature historic exhibits, concerts, workshops and Crescent City cuisine.
Ever since the jazz festival tradition took hold in Newport, R.I., in the summer of 1954, the format has exploded across the planet. This year, there are literally thousands of festivals -- ranging in locale and scope from huge concert series in major cities to smaller, more intimate events in Alpine hamlets and villages dotting the French countryside.
Here's a look at some of the more interesting festivals, and their expected highlights: Bell Atlantic Jazz Fest, July 1-11, New York: The New York edition of this series grew out of The Knitting Factory's "What is Jazz? Festival. Ornette Coleman will open the festival on June 1 with newly composed works. The evening will include a reunion with Coleman's classic rhythm section of Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on drums; the Global Expression Project, featuring Denardo Coleman and Charnett Moffett with special guests Badal Roy, Sultan Khan and Probaker Karaker; and "Freedom Symbol: Composition for 20 piece Contemporary Chamber Ensemble."
Also not to be missed, a June 4 free concert on the steps of Columbia University with the Max Roach and Cecil Taylor duo, Joey Baron and Ron Carter duo and the David S. Ware quartet. Opening day also includes a day-long showcase of street musicians at the Times Square Subway Station. Each night during the festival, one of the participating musicians will host a free midnight jam session at the Knitting Factory main space that is open to all the players in the festival lineup. Nearly all of the festival's shows will be webcast live on www.jazze.comhttp://www.jazze.com.
New Orleans by the Bay, Mountain View, Calif., June 10-11: West Coast music fans who couldn't make it to JazzFest in New Orleans this spring can get a taste of that event at the Shoreline Amphitheater. The lineup includes Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, ReBirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, Beausoleil, the Wild Magnolias, Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots, the Irvin Mayfield quartet, Zigaboo Modaliste, Los Hombres Calientes and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Music on four stages will be supplemented by Mardi Gras parades.
JVC Jazz Festival, New York, June 12-24: This major league successor to producer George Wein's original Newport, R.I., features indoor concerts by some of today's finest vocalists, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Cassandra Wilson, Patti LaBelle, Cape Verde's Cesaria Evora, Dianne Reeves, Ruben Blades, Diana Krall, Joao Gilberto, Etta Jones and Angelique Kidjo.
At Carnegie Hall on June 18, Maria Schneider and Jon Faddis will team up to present the original Gil Evans arrangements of Miles Davis' "Porgy & Bess" and "Sketches of Spain" together for the first time.
Tribute concerts will showcase the music of Bill Evans on June 12 and late guitarists Charlie Byrd and George Van Eps on June 14. Another will celebrate bassist Milt Hinton's 90th birthday (10 days early) on June 13. All three tributes are at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.
Playboy Jazz Festival, Los Angeles, June 17-18: This 22nd annual event at the Hollywood Bowl covers the full range of today's major jazz figures and hot bands -- from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis to Cuba's Los Van Van, from guitarist John Scofield's jam band project to smooth jazz collaborators Rick Braun and Boney James. Master of ceremonies Bill Cosby will also put together another hot all-star grouping in which he is likely to sit on drums per his custom.
Montreal International Jazz Festival, June 29-July 9: This 21st annual event features 100 ticketed indoor concerts and more than 300 free outdoor concerts in a four-block area of downtown Montreal. "For Montrealers, it is a way to celebrate summer and to celebrate mankind, and everybody is welcome," says festival supervisor Alain Simard.
The festival's prestigious Miles Davis Award for lifetime achievement in jazz will be presented to bassist and composer Charlie Haden. Montreal's innovative programming includes its "Invitation" series, a nine-evening run showcasing two musicians. Bassist Dave Holland and guitarist Jim Hall each get four nights to work with musicians of their choice and bands of their own design -- and collaborate as a duo on the fifth evening. Holland is putting together his own big band for one performance on July 1 featuring trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and saxophonist Antonio Hart.
Jazz a Vienne, Vienne, France, June 30-July 13: The 20th anniversary edition of this festival, held at a picturesque 4th Century Gallo-Roman open air theater in south central France, includes free club concerts and international jazz band competitions. Highlights will include the McCoy Tyner-Elvin Jones Group and a Michael Brecker-Pat Metheny Quartet -- rare pairings that are not scheduled for many of the U.S. jazz festivals.
North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague, Holland, July 14-16: This almost seems like a factory outlet for jazz shoppers, with 220 concerts on 16 stages in three days in a mammoth, smoke-filled convention center.
JVC Jazz Festival, Newport, R.I., August 11-13: Dave Brubeck, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Maceo Parker and Celia Cruz are the headliners at an event that offers the most diverse lineup since it returned to Newport in 1981. It will cover all of the bases in jazz-related music today -- from the jam band scene and the avant-garde to funk, Latin jazz, instrumental pop or smooth jazz, and Afro-pop.
Newport also will feature a second, tented stage to showcase more emerging talent. The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band will re-create Duke Ellington's historic 1956, career-reviving performance of "Diminuendo and Crescendo and Blue," which featured a rousing 27-chorus blues solo by saxophonist Paul Gonsalves.
Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, Calif., September 15-17: This late summer event, in its 43rd year at the sprawling Monterey County Fairgrounds, offers music on six simultaneous stages. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove will bring a string section along with his quintet; Lou Rawls and Les McCann will reunite; and Dr. Lonnie Smith and Larry Goldings will be cooking up the music at a Hammond B-3 organ summit.