Celebrating Diversity and Legacy at the Geneva Jazz Festival

The Geneva Jazz Festival is more than just a musical event; it’s a vibrant celebration of jazz’s rich diversity and its profound cultural impact. Held in Geneva, NY, this massive three-day festival not only showcases a wide array of jazz styles and artists but also honors the legacy of one of the city’s own, the legendary bassist Scott LaFaro. Having had the good fortune to participate in this festival for two consecutive years, I’ve experienced first-hand the dynamic atmosphere and the unity that jazz can inspire.

A Festival with a Rich Legacy

The festival was founded by trumpeter Janelle Bradshaw and guitarist Michael George “Gonzo” Gonzalez, driven by their profound love for jazz and a desire to foster community. For two consecutive years, these enthusiasts have worked tirelessly—contacting venues, coordinating with musicians, setting up schedules, and promoting the event.

It was a natural decision for Bradshaw and Gonzalez to dedicate the festival as a tribute to Scott LaFaro, renowned for his innovative approach to the double bass and his significant contributions alongside the Bill Evans Trio. This tribute not only enriches the festival by honoring LaFaro’s groundbreaking artistry but also deepens the connection to jazz’s roots for both performers and attendees, celebrating the music and the legendary musicians who have shaped its history.

Diverse Performances Across Unique Venues

Each year, the festival spreads its wings across various venues in Geneva, turning the city into a jazz enclave. Last year, my debut at the festival with flautist Michele Gordon as part of our Matrix Duo took place at Ardienne’s Brewery, where we infused the space with the melodic strains of jazz. The performance was captured in a video clip that highlights the intimate yet expansive nature of our musical expression.

I also had the opportunity to participate in one of the festival’s jam sessions, an experience that allowed me to connect with fellow musicians like guitarist Bobbie Henrie and saxophonist Paul DeLoria. This impromptu collaboration led to an invitation to perform with Paul’s quartet at the Rochester Science Center, a performance that can be relived here.

This year, responding to the organizers’ request for a saxophone inclusion, I teamed up withsaxophonist and guitarist performing at Geneva Jazz Festival John Viavattine, a well-known saxophonist from Rochester. Our gig at Big Alice was electrifying, with every song met with enthusiastic applause. We even opened the big bay window next to the bandstand so that those on the patio could enjoy the music, which included a spirited rendition of “All of Me,” available here.

A Look Forward

Each year, the Geneva Jazz Festival grows in depth and diversity, reflecting the ever-evolving nature of jazz itself. As a musician, the festival is a highlight of my year, providing not just a stage to perform but a place to meet, collaborate, and celebrate with fellow artists and jazz enthusiasts. The inclusive spirit and the enthusiastic response from the audience make it an event I eagerly anticipate each year.

As we look forward to future festivals, we continue to celebrate the diversity of jazz and the legacy of its pioneers like Scott LaFaro. The Geneva Jazz Festival stands as a beacon of musical excellence and cultural heritage, inviting everyone to experience the joy and unity of jazz. Here’s to many more years of making music and memories at this wonderful festival!

If you are planning a wedding, private party, or corporate event and you want to explore your options for musicians to provide live music, book a free music consultation with me or simply write to me on the contact page.