Glenwood jazz concert series ends on celebratory note
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – “Pretty standard,” Vallee Noone observed when asked what she thought of the turn-out for the final Glenwood Springs Summer of Jazz concert Wednesday night, which signaled the end of the popular summer concert series’ 25-year run.
“Truly, whether it’s the first concert of the season, or the last, the park is always full of people,” she said. “It’s been something that impresses me week after week.”
Indeed, the crowd of about 1,000 jazz lovers – and those there more in the spirit of community togetherness – was pretty typical for latter-day Summer of Jazz concerts.
The only exception would be the occasional weather event that sometimes got in the way of things. But even overcast skies and the threat of some rain Wednesday evening didn’t deter the community from coming out in force to celebrate the end of an era.
Summer of Jazz founders Bob and Mary Noone (Vallee’s parents) announced at the beginning of this year’s 25th season that it would be their last, marking the end of a storied run that has brought some of the biggest names in jazz music to Glenwood Springs over the years for the free, weekly concerts.
“The amount of talent that’s come through Glenwood is just incredible, if you think about it,” said John Taufer as he settled into his usual spot up front and center in Two Rivers Park for the grand finale.
He rattled off a list of past SOJ performers that includes the likes of Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Ahmad Jamal, Mose Allison, McCoy Tyner, John Cleary and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
“I can go on and on,” he said.
Still, Taufer has to admit that his favorite Summer of Jazz concert was last year when his son, Ashton Taufer, pulled together a group of college friends to play some jazz for the hometown crowd.
Which is a big part of what has made Summer of Jazz such a special tradition over the years.
“It’s just such a tremendous gathering of community, and such an asset for the entire Roaring Fork Valley, and beyond,” Taufer said. “Bob and Mary have just done such a terrific job.
“Our kids kind of grew up here, so I hate to see it come to an end, at least as Summer of Jazz,” he said. “It will be great to see the tradition of music in the park carry on with the arts council.”
The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts announced this week that it will fill the void by presenting the new Music in the Park concert series on Wednesday nights starting in summer 2011. The new series will feature a broader mix of musical styles, including folk, bluegrass, reggae, country and rock, as well as jazz.
A commitment to jazz, though, is another thing that has made the Summer of Jazz so unique, said longtime KDNK radio DJ and jazz impresario Wick Moses.
“Sure, they’ve had some fusion-types of bands, but they’ve stayed pretty true to jazz through the years,” Moses said. “I’m just amazed at how many wonderful acts have been here, and how they kept it going for so long.”
Rick Woolcott and his wife, Catherine, have been Summer of Jazz regulars for about 10 years since shortly after moving to Glenwood.
“For our family, it’s been the thing to do on Wednesday nights,” he said. “I just like the community feel, and how the whole town turns out. And, whenever we have friends in from out of town, it’s always a tradition to bring them out to Summer of Jazz for some music.”
Woolcott added that SOJ’s post-Hurricane Katrina tribute to the music of New Orleans, a city devastated in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane, has been a special treat.
In fact, the New Orleans-based Stooges Brass Band provided the perfect farewell party to close out Summer of Jazz, with its non-stop, improvisational, Dixieland-style of music that had the crowd dancing from the first note.
Right up front for most of the first set was the Noone family, Bob and Mary, son Charlie, and daughters Vallee and Claire, who have been the SOJ directors for the past two seasons.
“I was a barely month old when this all started,” said Vallee, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Thursday. “And, it’s not just a summer thing, our whole life has been jazz, year-round.”
While collecting donation baskets from volunteers back stage after the intermission, Vallee said it hadn’t quite hit that this was the last SOJ concert.
“It just feels like another show right now,” she said.
A short time later, she was up on stage with a pair of other birthday celebrants dancing with the Stooges members during a version of “Happy Birthday” that lasted close to 20 minutes.
There was talk at one point about Vallee and Claire taking over Summer of Jazz in their parents’ stead. But, with other pursuits at the moment, the timing wasn’t quite right, Vallee said.
“If we do something like that, we would want to make it our own, and not just inherit something from our parents,” she said. “I think it’s a good time to take a break.”
Besides, “jazz just happens,” she said, suggesting whatever that “next chapter” or “next phase” is will happen naturally.
During intermission, Bob and Mary Noone thanked the community for its generosity in giving to support Summer of Jazz over the years.
“We will miss this,” Mary said. “It always blew me away whenever I’d go out and ask for money, people would give. Everybody gives so much in this community, it’s really special.”
Bob Noone added that he’ll be excited to see the Two Rivers Park stage lit up on Wednesday nights next summer with the new Center for the Arts concert series.
“There are lots of good ideas out there,” he said. “Just look up here, it ain’t rocket science; all it takes is passion. I ask you to help make it happen and continue to celebrate this town.”
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A restriction on outdoor water use for Glenwood Springs city water customers is in place Saturday night until 8 a.m. Monday following heavy weekend rains over both the Grizzly Creek and Lake Christine burn scars.