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All that jazz: Spyro Gyra among eclectic acts slated to play Scranton Jazz Festival
Published: July 30, 2015
As summer starts winding down, the Electric City begins to resemble downtown New Orleans.
The Scranton Jazz Festival, taking place Aug. 14-16, has served as a late-summer staple in Northeast Pennsylvania for the past 11 years. Local veteran musician and festival artistic director Marko Marcinko said this year’s event will bring jazz, blues and world beat musicians to downtown Scranton.
The main stage, located in Radisson at Lackawanna Station Hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., hosts performances during the beginning of the evening. After the main stage closes, the Jazz Walk opens, with performances by local, regional and national up-and-coming and veteran artists at various venues downtown.
“We’re very dedicated to make it a destination for people to come from out of town,” Mr. Marcinko said of the festival, which initially started as a one-day event before growing into what it is now. “Listening to amazing music, getting great food and drink in an atmosphere that is as good as anywhere else in the world.”
Jay Beckenstein, saxophone player for Spyro Gyra, echoed Mr. Marcinko’s thoughts on the Electric City during a recent phone interview. The band, which has been around for four decades, will play the festival Saturday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m. on the main stage.
“Last time I was in Scranton, I got the feeling there was starting to be a growth after a long period of not growth,” Mr. Beckenstein said. “I felt the juices coming back into Scranton…prosperity coming back to Scranton.”
Over the years, Spyro Gyra has become “ a nice family,” said Mr. Beckenstein, with the entire group collaborating on each song they write. He’s “thrilled” about the jazz festival and the opportunity it gives their band and other musicians to perform, to catch up with old friends and to make new ones.
“It’s maintaining the community for the music that is so great, uniquely American and difficult to play,” he said. “Anything that can be done to bring some 17-year-old to see that as opposed to some DJ, anything that does that is golden because it’s saving something that is deliciously valuable.”
No one knows the value of jazz music better than Jon Faddis. The composer and trumpet player, who is performing with the Scranton Jazz Festival Big Band on Sunday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m. on the main stage, said jazz music feels “very personal” to him.
As a way to keep him off the streets, Mr. Faddis said his parents bought him a trumpet at age 7. At 15, he met and played for his idol, legendary jazz trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, and knew he wanted to be a trumpeter.
Mr. Faddis hopes to bring the same music and feeling that inspired him to the crowd in Scranton.
“Sometimes people think that jazz is too complicated,” he said. “I would like to bring an accessibility, like Dizzy’s music. Entertain the people and make them want to have a good time.”
If you go
What: Scranton Jazz Festival
When: Aug. 14 Main Stage 7:30 p.m., Jazz Walk 10 p.m.; Aug. 15 Main Stage 7 p.m., Jazz Walk 10 p.m.; Aug. 16 Main Stage 5 p.m.
Where: Main Stage, Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel; Jazz Walk, Adezzo, 515 Center St.; Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, 126 Franklin Ave.; the Bog, 341 Adams Ave.; Posh at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets are $10 for Friday Main Stage, $25 for Saturday Main Stage, $35 for VIP Saturday Main Stage and $20 for Sunday Main Stage. Weekend passes are $55 plus tax. For tickets or more information, visit www.scrantonjazzfestival.org.