Tri-C Jazz Fest 2020

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Tri-C Jazz Fest 2020

By Sean Donovan

Photo by Sean Donovan

The 41st annual Tri-C JazzFest was held virtually on August 21st through 23rd at the Cuyahoga Community College East campus, with 16 different local jazz groups in the festival’s official lineup. 

Each night had a 90 minute block that debuted on various social media websites. The festival was held online due to COVID-19 and the restrictions it placed on in-person events. Because of these same restrictions, there were never more than seven people on the stage during the livestreamed event. 

The festival itself was hosted by Dominick Farinacci, a former Tri-C student and accomplished trumpet player, Terri Pontremoli, and Evelyn Wright. The festival was sponsored by Key Bank, among other various sponsors. Donations made during the JazzFest all went to the Tri-C Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. 

Sammy DeLeon’s Jazz Sextet, Lafayette Carthon, Hubb’s Groove, the Eddie Baccus Sr. Quartet, and Jackie Warren were some of the performers from the 16 artist bill for the festival this year. “The cool thing about Cleveland is that it is in between Chicago and Detroit and New York,” said Jackie Warren, jazz pianist and Tri-C educator, when asked about what makes Cleveland jazz music special. “It’s a good hub for traveling musicians. You can go to an event for a lot of people without ever actually having to leave town. Cleveland is a really special place for that because it is small enough that the students can get up close and personal with the artists. It’s not a big jazz community, but you can say (it is) a bighearted, small jazz community here in Cleveland, and it’s a wonderful feeling.” 

“I think the JazzFest is one of the number one things that makes jazz in Cleveland so special, and then the other thing is their partnership with a couple of people who got awards tonight, especially Night Town and Jim Wadsworth.” Warren said in regards to the festival itself. The festival began awarding and recognizing musical artists and contributors to Cleveland jazz music back in 2016.  

While preparing to go back onstage for another performance onstage, Warren shared some advice for any students hoping to be career musicians. “You’ve got to be versatile. It’s really fun to explore all the different styles. I didn’t know I was going to be so involved in salsa music and Cuban music. That just happened. I didn’t know I was going to be a teacher. You also better love what you do, because you’re not going to make a lot of bread… Practice a lot. But if you really love it, go for it… It is okay if you have a different gig and still play music. If you make the choice to go all the way in, you might not be able to buy a house or have a family or whatever. It just depends on how far you wanna shoot.” 

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