Jazz in the park
This city may be known the world over as a rock ‘n' roll mecca, but the roots of jazz also run deep in Asbury Park. As proof, Sunday saw the second day of the 23rd Annual Asbury Park Jazz Festival, held in Sunset Park at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Main Street.Event organizer Ruthanne Harrison said the festival hosted approximately 5,000 attendees on Saturday and was expected to draw that many or more on Sunday. Harrison said the festival taps into a musical heritage that dates back to the jazz players from the city's west side who were hard at work long before the birth of the city's famed rock scene.
"The whole Springwood Avenue scene was second to nothing, really, some truly great jazz talents have evolved out of that scene and really, that was happening way before the rock scene," explained Colie Brice, a local musician who performed on Sunday.
A Bradley Beach resident who started his musical career in the rock world before transitioning to blues, jazz and experimental music, Brice described Sunday's performance as a "milestone" for him and his band.
"Anytime you get a bunch of scroungy rock guys and they can play well enough that they can sneak their way into a jazz festival you know they're getting a little bit better, so we're just excited to be a part of this," Brice said.
Among those in the crowd on Sunday afternoon was Danny Vallone of the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township, who said he has visited the Jazz Festival multiple times over the years thanks to the music and atmosphere.
Vallone, who frequents Asbury Park venues such as Asbury Blues on Bangs Avenue and Chico's House of Jazz on Lake Avenue, said enjoying jazz is easy if you're already into a certain kind of jam-based classic rock.
"If you like Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead-type of rock, it's a smooth transition (to liking jazz)," Vallone said.
Also on Sunday afternoon's bill were Carrie Jackson and Her Jazzin' All-Star Band, who kicked off their set with an extended instrumental workout that featured the Miles Davis classic "All Blues." A Newark native, Jackson said she regularly performs in and around Asbury Park.
"I just love this town," Jackson said of Asbury Park. "It's very artistic and the people just have a certain ambiance and a flair and an appreciation for the music, so that's what it's all about."
Jazz, said Jackson, "is America's classical art form, it's the music that started here and we need to support it more so we can keep the legacy of jazz alive."
- Alex Biese