Interview and story by J Hunter
“Woodstock Jazz Festival.” I look at those words and I think, “That seems right.” But they do bring one question to mind: Why have we not seen those words together before? I mean, think about it: We’re talking about an area where musicians off all stripes and genres have used as a haven for almost five decades. All the musicians that will be appearing at the festival’s maiden date – Saturday (October 4) at the Bearsville Theater – have been involved with that scene in one way or another, and Bearsville is just one of multiple possibilities for venues where next-level music can happen. So with all these resources to hand, the question beckons again: Why hasn’t this happened until now?
In cases like this, it usually takes one person to have an idea, decide it wasn’t crazy, and follow it to its logical conclusion. In this case, that one person was drummer Ben Perowsky, who’s been part of the Woodstock scene for more than 30 years. Perowsky’s got a résumé plenty of musicians would kill for: His past employers include James Moody, John Zorn, Lou Reed, Walter Becker and one member of the headliners at Saturday night’s show – the inimitable guitarist John Scofield, who’ll be teaming up with current and future legends Jack DeJohnette, John Medeski and Larry Grenadier to put a capper on what might be the first of many nights in the history of the newest jazz festival on the market. Perowsky and Medeski will also team up with reedman Chris Speed to show off the “new” jazz trio RedCred; and genre-busting pianist Uri Caine will open the show with a solo-piano set where anything just might happen… and probably will.
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