This Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2, witnesses the return of the Isthmus Jazz Festival on the Memorial Union Terrace, with headliner Mary Stallings appearing at the soon-to-be-shuttered-for-renovation Union Theater. All shows, including the headliner, are free. The schedule can be found with our feature story on Jazz Fest beginning on page 12.
Every year I confront the problem of counting the iterations of the festival. I know that last year I came up with the number 24, which I think was right, but each year doubt plagues me, which sends me scrambling to the archives. Here's what I found.
Back in October 1988, writing in this column about the impending Jazz Fest at the Civic Center on State Street (Miles Davis was the headliner), I wrote these words:
"We could be calling this 'The Second Annual...' since it is the second (last year's was done in conjunction with the Baryshnikov concert), and we plan to do this again next year if the community finds value in the event."
Well, I guess the community found something worthwhile in the exercise, as we've been doing it ever since. Doing the math, on my fingers, starting from 1987, I would conclude that this is the 26th Isthmus Jazz Festival. My fingers do not lie, though my memory might. Notice that the event now takes place in June, and my reference above was to a Jazz Festival in the fall, when it used to occur. Here comes the memory part. I recall a year when we did not have a fall Jazz Fest, but the next year it was mounted in the spring. I believe the switch occurred when the Civic Center was closed and the Overture Center was not yet opened.
Thus, we are looking at the 25th Isthmus Jazz Festival. Whatever, it's going to be good. And remember, the dancing doesn't start until the last set.