Token Creek Chamber Music

Program I

Jazz, Again

Friday, August 16, 5:00 P.M.
Saturday, August 17, 5:00 P.M. - SOLD OUT

Tickets: Café Seating $45 · Balcony $40 / Student $12


Standards mainly from the Great American Songbook tradition in a classic jazz club setting.

Program Notes

From 2004 to 2013 the Token Creek Festival presented jazz every year. It had been brewing for awhile ‐ late night jam-sessions with visiting jazzers, discoveries of jazz interest among our audience ‐ all leading to a “warmup” event in 2003: a lecture-concert involving the eventual core of our players.

The lecture idea was immediately dropped, in favor of concerts with minimal words and maximum space for improvised music. Production values were complicated from the beginning, the barn was transformed each time into a kind of rural jazz club, small tables in place of orderly rows, dim lights and candles, a sound system developed by John Schaffer (also, always, our bass player) for the specific needs of jazz performance.

We often programmed around the great songwriters of the ‘20s to ‘40s, composers of the timeless standards that are the heart of the jazz canon. We were very keen to present the words of these wonderful songs along with the melodies, requiring the welcome presence of vocalists Annette Sanders, Nicole Pasternak, Ricky Richardson, and eventually in our last iteration in 2013, half of MIT’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

Since all of our players were keenly interested in both jazz and classical concert music, we assumed that our audience would assume the same profile. Imagine our surprise when our Managing Director surveyed our audience, revealing very few “doublers.” (We briefly considered a large ticket discount for anyone subscribing to both features). In fact, in our experience performers on both sides of the profession tend to be at least fans of each other’s music, if seldom practitioners of both.

Why are we reviving, on the occasion of our 30th anniversary season, the jazz concerts after five years away? Because for those who have played it, at some level of skill and understanding, even part-time, nothing replaces it. Its chemistry, its singular aura has few true parallels in concert music. Its physical effect on its players and listeners ‐ mysterious, risky, often drug-like ‐ is hard to analyze but difficult to ignore.

While jazz radio stations are often true to those qualities, playing a lot of jazz that swings without shame, music that risks the addictive state that is jazz, it must be noted that a lot of the music played in clubs and concerts is as arcane and exclusive as the most hard-core university “experimental” music. We feel we have a role to play in adjusting that balance and are determined to play it again.

— Notes by John Harbison
Artistic Co-Director, Token Creek Chamber Music Festival