A Festival of International, Legendary and Local Music
The highly anticipated fifth year of Jazz on 2nd Ave returns on August 13, 14 and 15, for its biggest year yet, as the masterminds behind J2A bring Niwot big headliners, delicious food and drinks and a feeling of community through music that is fit for any musical preference. I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of the festival’s founders, Gene Malowany, for an exclusive interview on how far the festival has come and how it will continue to grow and flourish in the future.
Where did the idea of Jazz on 2nd Ave come from?
Jazz on 2nd Ave came from four guys, Howard Treppeda, Brad Goode and Don Grusin, but Howard is the real reason the festival exists. Years ago, Howard was hosting live music at his restaurant, Treppeda’s, where Brad Goode, a professor of jazz at CU was playing that night. Don Grusin, a legendary American jazz musician showed up that night to hang out with Howard and to hear Brad play. That night, Don suggested that the town of Niwot needed a Jazz festival, and Brad and Howard jumped on the idea.
What were everyone’s individual roles in bringing the festival together?
Like I said, the festival would not take place without Howard, but everyone involved has a unique musical background that allowed the festival to develop into what it is. Howard’s father was a jazz musician in New York for a number of years, so Howard grew up with a passion for music, but ultimately was successful as a businessman in the restaurant industry. Treppeda’s Ristorante was able to incorporate Howard’s musical background by hosting live music every Thursday night.
Don’s experience came from his legendary playing, producing and writing which allowed him to help organize musical acts.
Brad’s incredible talent, and knowledge of the jazz world were the connections the festival needed to bring in internationally acclaimed artists. Although he does way more than book the acts!
I grew up playing music but ended up being drawn to art and eventually wound up in the branding and design world as a creative director. That’s my role in the festival and in Colorado Jazz Group—so I get the best of both worlds.
What was the original vision of the festival?
Originally, the vision of the festival was to bring people together through free jazz music, but has become so much more. The festival has evolved into Colorado Jazz Group, a non-profit which now presents and produces Jazz on 2nd Ave, while also serving as the epicenter of jazz in Colorado. CJG is dedicated to supporting jazz education in schools, mentorship programs, and top-tier jazz performances in Colorado. One of the mentorship programs is the CJG Lions.
What to the CJG Lions do?
The CJG Lions is a mentorship program where five gifted kids are selected by Brad from all over Colorado to come to Niwot a few days before the festival begins to work and rehearse with the headliners of J2A. Following these rehearsals, the Lions launch the festival at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 15.
What can we expect to see from the festival this year and in years to come?
This year, you can expect another high energy year with headliners Aisha deHaas – the leading Broadway vocalist from New York, and Howard Levy – the world’s top harmonicist and cofounder of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, as well as Donald Harrison and Big Chief – legendary New Orleans saxophonist and his super funky band.
Along with a pretty stacked lineup, guests can expect to enjoy gourmet food vendors like Treppeda’s and L’Atelier. Also look for local breweries and definitely find the Sangria tent.
This year, we’re really stepping up our game for social media during the festival with blanketed WIFI. Social media is such a great form of outreach and we want our guests to be able to use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other app without any network problems. Last year, in the first two hours, we experienced 60gb of activity!
Each year we make positive and necessary improvements so we can continue to be an upscale festival that has something that appeals to virtually anyone.
The festival kicks off on the 13th at 6:30 p.m., with a private event featuring the Colorado Jazz Group Lions, Howard Levy and Donald Harrison at Treppeda’s Ristorante in Niwot. This exclusive musical debut caters to the authentic jazz fan who is looking for an intimate show, while also helping to support the mentorship program of the CJG Lions as well as Treppeda’s Ristorante. The $50 minimum per person for this event can be used on amazing Italian food as well as drinks and is certainly a very small fee for the intimacy and spectacular music that will be experienced.
Friday, August 14th will be a first for the festival as they host “Second To None,” an intimate, pre-festival evening featuring all headlining artists: Aisha deHaas (NYC), Howard Levy (Chicago), and Donald Harrison & Big Chief (NOLA) plus CJG’s Big Band. The Big Band is a 17-piece orchestra composed of the finest Colorado jazz musicians and educators. The evening is a Colorado Jazz Group fundraiser benefitting its educational outreach, in-school residencies, and mentorship programs (like the Lions). Tickets for the event are $20 at the door or online and will begin at 7:30 p.m. with food and drinks available for purchase.
The free festival and main event will take place on Saturday, August 15, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with international, legendary and local jazz all day. The festival aims to expand the breadth, scope and diversity of Jazz in our amazing state, and is not an event to miss.
For more information on tickets and set times please visit JazzOn2ndAve.com