The Jazz & Colors Festival celebrated its second year in Central Park on Saturday. Sadly, my photographer Carrie and I got a late start on the day, and only made it for the final 45 minutes of the event. Most of that time was spent attempting to match the skyline in the pic of Phil Lesh, Eric Krasno, and Joe Russo I'd seen on Jambase. Little did I know that the trio had already called it quits after a brief half-hour set consisting of two jams and a cover of "Get Back." The other thirty bands participating were supposed to be following the same setlist, though you wouldn't have known it if you were there. Aside from the bands being too spread out for a continuous listening experience, the different configurations of instruments and the improvisational nature of jazz combined to make each stop along the path and entirely different show.
Starting at the Pond on the park's southeastern corner, we passed right in front of Walking Distance, who were stationed at one of Central Park's most scenic vistas. Though several trees in the area were still green, the view was accented by splashes of yellow, red, and purple. We made our way though the park, passing rock-climbing children and an imitation Big Bird posing for photos. I caught a bit of the Hot Future Five in the Dairy, but their position under the roof wasn't conducive to taking in the autumnal scenery. Eventually we were able to follow our ears to the Naumberg Bandshell for Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. Situated on the stage, this was the largest group of musicians I saw during the day. They had attracted quite the crowd due to their prominent spot, and people were dancing to the music. We heard more sounds coming from the Bethesda Terrace, but upon discovery, it was just some band of gypsies. We retraced our steps to go meet our friend Maritza back at the Pond. On the way, we happened upon Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars at the bottom of the Mall. It was hard to get a good view of the players, so we continued back to catch the final notes from Walking Distance.
I wished I'd gotten there earlier to hear more (especially the Phil Lesh set), but now I know for next year. Which means yes, I would go again next year. I'd recommend they cram the park with even more bands though, allowing the music to never stop. The three of us extended our autumn-themed journey with a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to NYC's lone Dairy Queen for a pumpkin pie blizzard. Despite the wonderful fall foliage I'd seen earlier, the Statue of Liberty in front of the blood red sunset was my favorite view of the day.