2013 Winter Jazz Festival : Interview with Jason Lindner

7 Jan

This weekend, the Winter Jazz Festival will feature a bunch of outstanding musicians, all with different artistic sensibilities, and it should be a delight. I decided I would talk to pianist and keyboardist Jason Lindner about it, since he is getting ready to perform three times on Saturday night (January 12th): He will be playing with Donny McCaslin at the Zinc Bar (82 West 3rd Street), then with Omer Avital and His Band of the East (still at the Zinc Bar) and finally with his own band Jason Lindner Breeding Ground at the Culture Project Theater (45 Bleecker Street).

EP: Jason, What is special for you when it comes to the Winter Jazz Festival? What makes this festival different from others, according to you?

JL: I’ve performed in many festivals around the globe, from North and South America to Europe to Asia. WJF is unique in that of the wealth of talent featured each year, most – if not all – are actually local NY musicians and bands. In 2 days is a concentration of much of what you can experience in NYC over a longer time-span. As a native New Yorker myself, the fact that we have a festival representing our creative community is quite exciting and wonderful.

EP: Do you think the Winter Jazz Festival is a quintessentially New York jazz festival? Why? How?

JL: It is without a doubt quintessentially a NY festival. For many years NY has had the JVC Jazz Festival, which in recent years has ceased to exist. JVC brought so much music to NYC but much was from elsewhere, featuring many big names mixed with a minority of upcoming talent, some of which were local. WJF differs in that it truly showcases NY in all it’s artistic glory. A young festival, each year I’ve seen it grow and improve by way of incorporating a wider range of musical styles, for which it was criticized in the beginning for not doing enough. But the idea of focusing mostly on emerging local talent, plus some established artists, and not without adding some indisputable legends, remains consistent.

EP: Do you think the Winter Jazz Festival adds a cultural dimension to the city which may be different from other exciting January events? Do you think jazz and New York go hand in hand?

JL: WJF is undoubtedly a cultural event. In a city where jazz and so much other music can be experienced on the daily, WJF makes a concentrated event out of (mostly) progressive jazz. Jazz has a deep history in this city. It has evolved here in ways in which were not possible elsewhere, and New York has largely brought jazz to the whole world.

EP: Can you tell me a little bit about your new project?

JL: Breeding Ground was born out of a commission from the institution The Jazz Gallery for their large ensemble series in cooperation with some American grant foundations, and I was specifically involved because of my experience as a big band leader. I built this new 11-member ensemble around my working trio Now Vs Now (with bassist Panagiotis Andreou and drummer Mark Guiliana). I envisioned the color of strings and called upon my Music and Art High School-mate, violinist Mazz, to recruit a string quartet (Curtis Stewart, Carmel Raz, Will Martina). I asked vocalist Jeff Taylor to help write lyrics and perform some verbal ideas which were on my mind. To complete the sound I gathered a horn section of musicians who I felt were in a similar direction to myself musically (John Beaty, Jorge Continentino and Rafi Malkiel).
This combination of artists gelled so well that it immediately felt like a family. We are currently completing our debut album, planned for release this summer.

The festival is quite inexpensive: $35 for on day pass and $45 for a 2 day pass. Considering the quality and variety of the shows, it is a great January investment! Thank you to Kim Smith for helping out. 
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One Response to “2013 Winter Jazz Festival : Interview with Jason Lindner”

  1. blog January 9, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    Awsome website! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am bookmarking your feeds also.

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