Park City Jazz Festival survives recession blues |

Park City Jazz Festival survives recession blues

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

"We are a community that supports the arts, whether the money is flowing or not," said Kris Severson, executive director of the Park City Jazz Foundation.

Severson’s dictum matches his determination in making the 2009 Jazz Festival a reality. The festival, which runs from Aug. 21-23, features two stages, a food and beer garden, workshops with young musicians, and a cadre of top-shelf talent scheduled to take the stage at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheatre.

But the festival, now in its 12th year, almost didn’t happen. Funding has been scarce with corporate sponsors short circuiting in the recession and personal donations down by more than 10 percent from 2008. Refusing to cancel, Severson dialed back some of the programming, reduced ticket prices and attracted Subaru as a major sponsor. Locals will pay $20 for a day pass and general admission costs $35, about $10 less than the price last year. "It’s our economic stimulus package," Severson joked.

Funding from the Summit County Recreation, Arts and Parks Tax and Restaurant Tax grants are largely responsible for the continuation of the festival, Severson said.

But it’s the talented performers that attract crowds. The Jazz Festival will bring Al Jarreau, Esperanza Spalding Pancho Sanchez and Anna Wilson to town.

Jarreau who played at the Jazz Festival in 2002, has won Grammys in jazz, pop and rhythm and blues categories in four different decades.

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Spalding, now a spokeswoman for Banana Republic, is a musical prodigy who plays the bass and sings. Just 24 years old, Spalding will likely attract younger crowds to the festival. Patrons may recognize the Portland, Ore., native from Barack Obama’s televised tribute concert on the eve of his inauguration. Stevie Wonder is Spalding’s mentor and helped her secure a solo spot in the show.

Sanchez, who plays on the main stage Saturday, brings a Latin flair to the lineup.

Wilson, a singer, has played the Jazz Festival in previous years and brings with her a growing following among Parkites.

"The festival has always been an evolution of artists," said Lew Fine, who co-founded the event more than a decade ago. "Music is an expression of the mind and soul. It soothes the savage beast."

One of the best parts of the festival is that, through teaching music to kids in Summit County, jazz luminaries become part of the community, Severson said. This year, the Saturday seminars with junior high and high school students will return to Park City High School. "What we hear back is that the musicians love teaching," Severson said. "They become part of the family." The clinics aren’t restricted to K through 12. Budding musicians and experts also are encouraged to participate in the clinics, Severson said. Attendees of the clinics get free tickets to the evening show.

The 2009 Jazz Festival will be Severson’s last. The executive director is stepping down in the fall to take a job in Toronto for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2009 Jazz Festival and are available at or by calling 940-1362.

Friday, Aug. 21

Ticket booth opens: 1:30 p.m.

Gates open: 3:30 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

TBD 2nd Stage

5 p.m.

Sean O’Bryan Smith Main Stage

6 p.m.

TBD 2nd Stage

6:15 p.m.

Brian Bromberg with the Crescent Super Band with Main Stage

7:45 p.m.

TBD 2nd Stage

8 p.m.

Esperanza Spalding – Main Stage

Saturday, Aug. 22

Ticket Booth opens at noon

Gates open: 2:30 p.m.

3:30 p.m.

John Flanders 2nd Stage

4 p.m.

PC All Stars with Nicholas Payton Main Stage

5:30 p.m.

John Flanders 2nd Stage

5:45 p.m.

Anna Wilson and the Jazz Your Azz Band Main Stage

7:30 p.m.

Student/Local 2nd Stage

7:45 p.m.

Pancho Sanchez — Main Stage

Sunday, Aug. 23

Ticket Booth opens at 11 a.m.

Gates open: 1:30 p.m.

2:15 p.m.

Student/Local 2nd Stage

2:45 p.m.

TBD Main Stage

4:15 p.m.

Local 2nd Stage

5:30 p.m.

Local Main Stage

6 p.m.

Local 2nd Stage

6:15 p.m.

Al Jarreau Main Stage