The New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty formed a spectacular backdrop to the Liberty Jazz Festival which was held in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey on September 9-10, 2006.
The response to this first time event was overwhelming with over 14,000 people in attendance. Sponsored by Jersey’s Star Ledger newspaper and hosted by WQCD 101.9, the tri- state area’s main smooth jazz station.
The weekend featured enthusiastic crowds, delicious food, outstanding scenery, balmy weather and of course great jazz!
Saturday’s show featured Gil Parris, Gato Barbieri and the legendary George Benson. Playing all of his classic songs for over an hour and a half, he got the crowd to their feet swinging and swaying to “Give Me The Night."
The All – Star Jam Finale featured Norman Brown, Patti Austin, Alex Bugnon and Paul Taylor. The CD 101.9 crew set up a tent where some of the artists appeared for “on the air” interviews before their performances. This was a great opportunity to meet and talk with favorite artists like Gerald Albright.
Jazz Monthly.com’s own Baldwin “Smitty” Smith flew in from Texas to join the festivities. Paul Cavalcante and Deborah Rath from CD 101.9 were the featured DJ’s.
Sunday’s line up included Stanley Jordon, David Sanborn and an All -Star Jam (guitars and saxes) with Jeff Golub, Richard Elliot, Peter White and Gerald Albright. This jam sizzled with each taking their turn in the spotlight making their instruments talk! The All-Star Finale included the RENDEZVOUS All-Stars: Waymen Tisdale, Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler and Brian Simpson.
The Liberty Jazz Festival was a “jazz happening”. But it was more than the music. It was people coming together in a special place, at a special time…the weekend before the 5th anniversary of 9/11. You couldn’t be there without feeling it. It was people remembering the past, but also embracing our way of life and the healing power of music. Jazz is an expression of freedom and what better way to celebrate this special part of who we are as Americans then at the Liberty Jazz Festival. Promoted as the 1st Annual…next year’s is sure to be the hottest ticket around!!!
Donna K. Vaupel
All photos courtesy of Donna K. Vaupel