Sep 17, 2021
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is beginning its live, in-person programming in the coming week (see Podcast for a preview) and in six weeks will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival, showcasing an all-star lineup of the country’s best musicians. Held in and around NJPAC from Nov 6-20, this year’s programing has a little something for everyone, including the New Jersey premiere of Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited.
The Festival begins with the Pedro Giraudo Tango Quartet and Nimbus Dance presenting the world premiere of “Raucous Caucus Tango.” There will be well-known crossover artists like Chris Botti (November 12) and Chaka Khan (November 11), a killer double bill of new NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves with the all-star group Artemis (November 13) and a bittersweet tribute by Anat Cohen and the Newport All-Stars to the late George Wein, who passed away after this preview was recorded (November 15).
The Festival includes the 10th annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, this year hosted by McBride and Ms. Reeves, with guest judges Steve Williams, Jazzmeia Horn, John Pizzarelli, and the ageless Sheila Jordan.
I spoke with NJPAC’s Executive Vice President & Executive Producer David Rodriguez this summer to get the overview of this important jazz festival. Born in Newark, New Jersey, he was a full-time musician on the road with groups ranging from Isaac Hayes to Tito Puente to the Rochester Philharmonic. Prior to NJPAC, David was CEO of BergenPAC, where he created a partnership with Bennett Studios and collaborated on recordings and live broadcasts from BergenPAC’s stage of kd lang, Tony Bennett and Steve Martin. Rodriguez was then chief executive of the Apollo Theatre, where he produced six seasons of “Showtime at the Apollo” and several other shows.
Podcast 844 is our conversation, as we discuss the TD James Moody Jazz Festival, with musical selections from Chaka Khan (“Be-Bop Medley”) and Dianne Reeves (“Feels So Good (Lifted”).