Columns » Livelong Days

Jazzed Up for the 4th

2nd annual Colorado Springs Jazz Fest moves to Memorial



Last year just didn't feel like the Fourth. With the heavy smoke from the Hayman fire blackening our lungs and displacing our mountain residents, who could celebrate? And the drought meant that people everywhere discovered that six hot dogs and a funnel cake just don't go down as easily without 'splosions in the sky.

The one exception to the pall over last year's Fourth of July celebrations was the first annual Colorado Springs Jazz Festival at the Air Force Academy. But when increasing military security at home and abroad presented serious challenges to keeping the event at the AFA this year, promoters Rob Isacoff and Joe Tomaselli began working out a deal with the coordinators of the annual Fourth of July celebration in Memorial Park.

And, when the Colorado Springs Philharmonic announced the formation of their new organization, jazz festival organizers invited the players to join the festival in order to honor the 30-year tradition of orchestral music in Memorial Park.

"Our mission," said Isacoff, "is to expose people to local music in addition to national acts. This town needs to dance."

As part of the jazz festival, blues giant Otis Taylor and bad boys Big Bad Voodoo Daddy -- two truly American headliners from two truly American music genres -- will take the stage. Preceding them throughout the day will be local acts EastinWest, 21/3, The Miles-Rinsky Project, Magic Dave and the New Mules, Johnny and the Jukes, and the Colorado Ambassadors, a gospel group from Denver. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic will end the night on a traditional note with Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and, according to pyrotechnics master Mike Carlyle, "a fireworks show unlike anything seen in Memorial Park before."

In addition to music, the park will also be home to a full carnival with rides and attractions, food vendors, a beer garden (across the street), arts and crafts booths, and a special display of the Sept. 11 quilt project, an American flag nearly the size of a football field (and weighs 9,000 pounds!) made up of handmade panels from all over the world.

--Bettina Swigger

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