Home Jazz Choose the music: Fans step out in pandemic for 10th annual Morristown jazz and blues festival

Choose the music: Fans step out in pandemic for 10th annual Morristown jazz and blues festival

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At the start of his animated series with The Witnesses, Louis prima jr. looked at the sea of ​​people swaying over Morristown Green and smiled.

“My God, I missed this for 18 months! He told the crowd on Saturday at the 10th Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival.

That seemed to be the overriding sentiment on a pleasant late-summer day and evening, as five acts heralded the return of the free festival after a one-year hiatus from COVID-19.

Louis Prima Jr. and the witnesses at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Despite a 1.07 transmission rate this indicates that the new coronavirus is spreading in New Jersey and that concerns about groundbreaking infections, festival-goers tired by the pandemic are betting on the safety of outdoor gatherings, with no capacity restrictions statewide since June.

Reese, 10, of Rockaway, dances like a storm at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

“It’s too good to fail,” said Patricia Brangs, a former Morris County resident who traveled from her retirement home in Shore. Lawn chairs and beach blankets covered much of the two-acre place.

“This is again a taste of normalcy,” said Tony Young, who spent the pandemic doing his sales work from his Rockaway home. “I’m vaccinated, we’re out, I’ve got my social distancing going… it’s a beautiful day, a great day for a concert.”

Masks were scarce on Saturday, and social distancing gave way to dancing take center stage.

During virtual municipal assemblies throughout the summer, the mayor Tim Dougherty, the founder of the festival, urged residents to take the Delta variant seriously and to continue to follow safety protocols. His administration has postponed the return to in-person city meetings until October 1, 2021 and pushed the festival back from its traditional niche from late August to late September.

Under a portrait of his late friend, Michael Fabrizio, Mayor Tim Dougherty watches the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

In the seven days leading up to the festival, Morristown reported 23 new cases, including a at Morristown High School; Morris Township has reported 20 new cases.

Yet, throughout the region, life looks like something normal. The children have resumed their usual class schedules. Morristown Mayo Performing Arts Center and Broadway theaters have resumed shows at full capacity – for fans wearing masks with proof of vaccination. MetLife Stadium does not require such proofs or masks; over 74,000 people attended the Giants’ opening earlier this month.

Swing dancers at the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We’re about as careful as we can get. But we are still living life and must continue, ”said Franck Chambers of Madison, who loved to swing dance to music with Carmen Garcia.

“We are too old to wait a few years” for the virus to go away, noted Garcia, who said attending the jazz festival was “like in heaven”.

Pam huelster de Morristown said she wouldn’t feel comfortable at an indoor event yet. But she appreciated being able to keep her distance on Saturdays and put on a mask if she wanted.

“It’s wonderful to hear live music again. I’m grateful to have this opportunity, ”said Huelster, who hopes to resume indoor concerts with the Harmonium Choral Society this autumn.

Tess, a retired teacher, receives a COVID photo at the 10th annual Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Tess, a retired teacher from Denville who declined to give her last name, was reluctant to attend the festival. She felt better after finding the Atlantic Health mobile vaccination lab stationed at the Green.

“This is my third Pfizer and I am delighted. I just texted my friends telling them to come over here and do the same, ”Tess said moments after receiving a booster shot. With a gentle breeze and free music, it added to a wonderful day, she said.

“We have been deprived for a long time.

Towards the end of the mobile stay, the Atlantic nurse Kelly ramos said 31 injections had been given. Two were the first doses, she said. Most of the rest were third doses.

The crowd watches the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Katharine Boyle.

MEMORIALS: LINDA, MICHAEL AND BUCKY

The festival included tributes to a 94-year-old jazz guitar legend, COVID-19 victim Bucky Pizzarelli, shot at the start of the pandemic.

The Frank Vignola trio, who has supported Pizzarelli at the festival in previous years, performed a set of Pizzarelli’s signature tracks, ending with his favorite, Rose honeysuckle.

“Bucky would have said, ‘Start the car,’ Vignola remembers fondly. “It was his signal that this was the last song. ‘Start the car.’ “

Ed Laub, bottom right, performs a solo in memory of his friend Bucky Pizzarelli at the 10th Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Vignola, guitarist Vinny raniolo and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi invited some guest stars to their tribute set: Violinist Aaron Weinstein; acclaimed jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini, who is 85 years old and is recovering from a recent hospitalization and who needed help getting on and off the stage; and Ed Laub, a former guitar pupil of Pizzarelli in Bergen County who performed regularly with his hero in his later years.

Jeli Posse saxophonist Anthony Nelson with his sons Jayvion, 9, and Hakim, 7, at the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Saturday was bittersweet for Laub.

“I miss him incredibly,” he said of Pizzarelli, who was still looking forward to the Morristown festival.

“He loved live crowds, he loved looking people in the eye, playing for them and watching them smile. He wanted to share his music with everyone, ”Laub said.

The day was also peppered with memories of the festival’s co-promoter. Linda kiger smith and Michel Fabrice of the Morristown Parking Authority. Both died of non-COVID illnesses over the summer.

Blowing bubbles at the 10th Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

As head of the Morristown Partnership, Fabrizio played a central role in launching the festival, the co-promoter said. Don Jay Smith.

Dougherty remembered Fabrizio as his fishing buddy, best friend and nigger from his speeches. Fabrice’s widow Lisa attended the festival with family members. a online reader raises funds to help Fabrizio triplets continue their college education.

Lisa Fabrizio listens to the remembrance of her late husband Michael from promoter Don Jay Smith, left, and Mayor Tim Dougherty, at the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Linda Smith was in charge of booking artists for the festival. In the 1990s, she and her husband Don helped save the Community Theater, which became the Mayo Performing Arts Center.

Rob Paparozzi to headline the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Winard Harper and Jeli Posse closed their set on Saturday by dedicating an invigorating cover of Stevie Wonder’s Is not she Lovely to Linda Smith, who died of breast cancer.

Headlining Rob paparozzi gave a moving harmonica interpretation of Black orpheus in his memory.

“I hope she despises me, knowing that I did my best and that she would do without it” Don smith said after his first jazz festival in Morristown without his wife and partner.

A portrait of late co-promoter Linda Kiger Smith frames the stage, as her husband, promoter Don Jay Smith, commemorates her at the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Paid for by corporate donations, the annual festival is meant to promote downtown Morristown, according to the mayor, whose unopposed bid for a fourth term garnered positions from Smith on stage between acts on Saturday.

Audrey Weber takes an alto saxophone solo for Swingadelic, at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

The group Swingadelic kicked off the festivities. Musicians from all groups expressed their joy in performing in the sun after so many months of pandemic darkness.

Taking a short break in a set overflowing with scenic movements (including a moment “Look Ma, no hands!” By the trombonist, balancing the instrument on his mouth), saxophonist Marco palos of Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses was asked how much fun he was having.

“Too much fun!” he apologized.

Marco Palos by Louis Prima Jr. and Les Témoins solos at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Harper, a drummer who gave sidewalk jazz concerts for his Jersey City neighbors during the pandemic, said he felt the love of the Morristown audience.

“And that’s what it is. People were paying attention, they enjoyed it, ”he said after his set with the Jeli Posse. “We need it, and they need it. “

Our thanks to Morristown Green contributors Jeff Sovelove and Katharine Boyle for their photographs.

MORE MORRISTOWN JAZZ & BLUES FEST 2021 COVERAGE

Jeli Posse drummer and conductor Winard Harper at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Pit Bull Nap at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A young dancer captures her moment at the 10th annual Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival on September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Winard Harper’s Jeli Posse Gabriel Roxbury gets a helping hand (or two) from the audience at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Tap dancer Josh Johnson, with Winard Harper and the Jeli Posse, at the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival, September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Green, at the start of the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Katharine Boyle.
Louis Prima Jr. turns the crowd upside down at the 10th Annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Fest on September 18, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gene Bertoncini, 85, takes a solo, flanked by Vinny Raniolo and Frank Vignola, at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Katharine Boyle.
Friends enjoy the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Katharine Boyle.
Two generations of fans at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The crowd watches the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Katharine Boyle.
Andy Reidel and Dave Post of Swingadelic, at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Panorama of Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Ed Laub’s Guitar Doll, at the 2021 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove