Lake George Mirror
By Anthony F. Hall
Every year, says Paul Pines, the Lake George Jazz Weekend looks both backward and forward: backward to past masters and the traditions that nurtured them, and forward, to young lions and new idioms.
This year is no different. It features, for example, Gary Burton, the 70-year-old pioneer of jazz fusion who has just released a new album and an autobiography, as well as bassist Ben Williams, who won the 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition and who's performed with Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Mulgrew Miller and Terence Blanchard, among others.
"We alway present the range of the music, although not always in the same way. But, however diverse the line-up, it's always jazz. We don't dilute it," says Pines.
"That's why people return year after year," interjected John Strong, the Lake George Arts Project director who first thought of an autumn jazz festival on Lake George. "Ours is a sophisticated audience. They don't come here to throw frisbees."
This year, both Strong and Pines, the festival's original and only curator, are in an especially retrospective mood.
That's because they're celebrating the jazz festival's thirtieth anniversary, and are in a mood to reminisce about its origins.
This year's festival is the fourth sponsored in large part by Gruskin Group™, the New Jersey-based architecture and design firm whose principal, Ken Gruskin, lives on Pilot Knob.
"We wouldn't be here without Ken and Susan Gruskin and their firm," said John Strong. "Their support allows us to present music at this level."
"With this kind of support, I can combine performances with a highly visible musician like Gary Burton, with an under-the-radar jazz star like Michelle Rosewoman, or the well-known with the less well-known, but very high-level musician. To have both is my kick," said Pines.