This summer was my third summer as the festival manager at the Stanford Jazz Festival. Every year I look forward to working with this wonderful team of people that undertake the Workshop and the Festival over this 6 week period. One of my favorite parts of this particular gig is that I get to learn so much about jazz. It truly is an educational experience for me on a nightly basis. This year we produced 38 shows. You might be saying to yourself, wow, that is a lot of jazz to absorb. If there weren’t so much of a variety, I would consider it a bit much, but in fact, they do a great job of booking a very nice variety of acts and styles. Latin Jazz, Brazilian Jazz, Hot Jazz, Standard Jazz, Traditional Jazz, Big Band Jazz, Jazz for Kids, Musicals re-scored for Jazz, Contemporary Jazz and others that seem to just fall into their own category.
We do these shows in one of two small theaters and I often wish more people knew about them. I don’t consider myself a jazz aficionado and I don’t really listen to jazz on a regular basis, but I really enjoy just about every single act we put out there on stage. Why don’t more people come to experience this? What I have learned is that the jazz community is very small compared to most other genres. Much smaller than I ever expected, but in essence, that is why this organization exists. They promote the preservation of jazz by teaching kids how to play through their workshop, then inspiring both the students and the local community through the music at the Festival.
As I grow older and wiser in my career, I have come to the conclusion that just producing an event is not what I love about my career. Producing an event that is a learning experience with a great team around you is what it should be about. Now that I am freelance, I know that I can choose with whom I work. That is the goal I intend to keep, for my sanity and my happiness. I hope more people create the same opportunity within their lives, because wouldn’t the workplace be so much more pleasant if everyone did?