Combining new bands with old favorites, organizers of the Evergreen Jazz Festival brought together another delightful mix of crowd-pleasing musicians for its 15th annual event. Ed Danielson, 20-year veteran of KUVO, arranges for the lineup, drawing talent from various parts of the country as well as Colorado itself.
As this year's president, Kent Simon, says, "When it all started back in 2001, the organizers dared not think of even the fifth, let along the fifteenth." Being $30,000 in the hole after the first event, organizers took a year off to regroup to avoid a repeat performance of financial stress. Under the able leadership of people like Ted and Jeannie Mann and others, the event has steadily moved out of operating in the red, paying back its debt and having a contingency fund.
Attendance has grown from 600 that first year to roughly 2,000. More than 10 percent of attendees travel here from out of state. One man from Michigan proudly displayed his badges from eight of the first fifteen festivals. The total number of sets has increased from 60 to 79 with 11 bands entertaining.
Over the years organizers have added free dance lessons and demonstrations and increased their involvement with schools and workshops, as education about jazz is an important part of their mission to keep America's unique art form alive. The organization collaborates with Conifer High School DECA, Arts Alive, Evergreen High School graphic arts program and the Evergreen Creative District.
Despite a heavy dependence on volunteers – 100 or more of them – the cost to put on a three-day jazz festival is enormous. Ticket sales cover only 50 percent of overhead with additional funding coming from individuals, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, Colorado Creative Industries, and corporate giving.
For more information, check the website.