Jazz fest cancelledWritten by Mark Hensch | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo’s annual Art Tatum Heritage Jazz Festival has been canceled following the withdrawal of main sponsor Chrysler LLC. Founded in 2000, the event honors famed local pianist Art Tatum with a weekend of jazz performances along the Maumee River. Though no concrete date had been set for the festival, its loss comes before the 100th anniversary of Tatum’s birth.
“Losing Chrysler is the biggest issue of the cancellation,” said Jeff Jaffe, vice president of the Toledo Jazz Society, which hosts the event. “Even then, the economic climate made it so secondary and tertiary sponsors could not fund us enough to do the festival at the same caliber we have had in previous years.”
Jaffe said he became concerned for the event in early 2009, when Chrysler expressed concerns about adequate funding during the current economic downturn. During its best years, he said, the festival hosted between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
With the event on hiatus, local jazz enthusiasts are working toward still honoring Tatum’s legacy. In lieu of the festival, two “jazz parties” are happening 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. June 19 and 20, respectively, at the Water Street jazz club Murphy’s Place. The venue will have 24 slots containing 50 to 60 national and local jazz musicians. It costs $15 for a day ticket or $25 for a two-day package.
The event is not sponsored by the Toledo Jazz Society and is unrelated to its annual Tatum festival.
“Our venue will have top-flight jazz artists both nights,” said Joan Russell, a Murphy’s co-owner. “We will have top musicians from the area and many name musicians who are nationally known.”
Jaffe said he remains optimistic brighter days are ahead for the festival, and by extension, Toledo.
“Toledo is a resilient community,” he said. “We are going to get through this and there will be good things on the other side.”