The other day it was 39 degrees when I let the dogs out in the a.m. This is summer? Okay, it's not quite June yet, so there's still time for the weather to start acting summer-like. And I'm sure it will by the time the Isthmus Jazz Festival hits the Memorial Union Terrace June 5-8. The program for the first of our summer social events adorns your Isthmus this week.
This is the 20th rendition of Isthmus Jazz Fest. It started as a two-day affair on Oct. 8 and 9, 1988, at the old Madison Civic Center, which occupied the space and became part of the present-day Overture Center. You might think this would be the 21st version, but we lost a year when we switched from an annual fall date to its spring incarnation about the same time we shifted venues from the Overture Center to the Terrace. We do like being outdoors and lakeside when the weather cooperates, which it always has.
That first fest featured the legend, Miles Davis, as the headliner. The first Jazz Personality of the Year was Demetra Shivers, who sang with Madison big bands in the earliest days of jazz in Madison and was the city's first diva.
In 1988, Roy Haynes had already been gigging for over 40 years. The "hard swinging" drummer is still going strong, racking up awards and working on the road with the aptly named Fountain of Youth Quartet. He's this year's headliner, appearing at Jazz Fest's only paid performance Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater. You can find out more about him in Susan Kepecs' excellent article that headlines the enclosed program. You can also get the lowdown on all the other acts appearing at the festival over the four days in there too.
While it may cost you nothing to stake out space on the Terrace and catch all the performers in what is perhaps the world's loveliest setting, they are not playing for free. If you'd like to help support the Jazz Fest programming, you can become a festival patron for $100. Philanthropy is not without its rewards: Patrons get reserved parking, a reserved seating area, some food and drink, a ticket to the Roy Haynes performance and some other perks for the Benjamin. It's a good deal - especially the ease of parking. For details call the Union Theater Box Office at 608-262-2201.
The complete Isthmus Jazz Festival schedule is in the program. And so is the name of the Jazz Personality of the Year.