All that jazz, bar none

Critic's choice: Pop Music

April 30, 2000|By J.D. Considine

There was a time when jazz festivals served as a sort of cultural barometer, showcasing both mainstream and cutting-edge artists so the audience could decide for itself which end of the spectrum seemed more interesting.

But in recent years, big jazz fests have mainly pandered to the tastes of the most casual listeners, stressing the easy listening gloss of "smooth jazz" above all else.

Not the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival. This multi-city event is like a blast from the past, offering everything from the shock of the new to the soothing sounds of tradition.

The lineup of the four-day festival includes such jazz legends as Modern Jazz Quartet bassist Percy Heath, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Paul Bley, bassist Charlie Haden, saxophonist David S. Ware, and the revitalized Sun Ra Arkestra. And the the pop end of the spectrum won't exactly be ignored, what with shows by Los Lobos, David Grisman and local heroes Lake Trout.

The festival runs from Thursday through Sunday at a variety of Washington locations. Although the schedule is too long and varied to list here, you can find all the information you'll need online, at www.jazfest.com (be sure you don't type two "Zs"). Or, for information by phone, call 877-422-3378.

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