By SAM HOUSEHOLDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The 26th Annual Elkhart Jazz Festival wrapped up Sunday, ending another successful weekend of cool music and fun for performers and patrons alike.
The annual three-day event had performers at six venues around downtown Elkhart, including a free stage on Main Street and many food vendors.
One of the headline acts of the weekend was Saturday night’s performance by The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
For patrons like Gary McCormick, Berrien Springs, Mich., who says he has been coming to the festival since 1988, performers like Marsalis make the event more special.
“Even without them it’s good,” he said. “But with them, it’s just frosting on the cake.”
Tony Lamb, South Bend, said he was attending Sunday for the first time after his friend invited him.
“I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner,” he said. “I think it’s a rightful source of pride for the community.”
Performers of all different forms of jazz are featured at the event, such as big band, blues, modern jazz, swing and more.
Trombone player Jordan Williams, from Valparaiso and a member of Truth in Jazz, said the Elkhart festival is different because of the close proximity of the artists to the audience, which makes it unique.
“The Elkhart Jazz Festival is different than a lot of larger-scale jazz festivals because of the intimate environments,” he said. “You just hear a variety of groups, sizes of groups and types of jazz that you don’t hear unless you come to a small town festival like this.”
Williams, who said he has been performing with Truth in Jazz at the festival for 10 years, said the festival has improved every year.
“A guy like (Marsalis) is basically a household name in this country and for him to bring his band here, to this festival, it validates the festival and reinforces that it’s something that’s good for the community and something that should be kept going,” he said.
According to Williams, the festival allows for people to get out of their “listening comfort zones” by exposing them to types of jazz they may not have heard before or thought they would like.
“Come out next year,” he said “For people who don’t think they’re jazz fans, I would encourage them to come out and see it, hear it with their own ears and I think they’ll find they actually are.”