Live Concert Photography: Winter Jazz Fest 2020: PRS Foundation and BBC Music Introducing Hosted by Gilles Petersen feat. Moses Boyd with Ashley Henry, Poppy Ajudha, and Sarathy Korwar at Le Poisson Rouge 1/8/20
Founded in 2005 Winter Jazzfest was founded to celebrate jazz as a vital, living entity — one that honors and reveres its past while embracing innovation and creativity. But at its heart, the festival is centered around several fundamental question for those who love and know jazz: “What exactly is jazz? What can jazz be — and sound like?”
Initially started as a single-night, one-stage showcase, the festival has expanded exponentially while becoming a hotbed of exciting new sonic and aesthetic developments within the jazz world: by 2017. the critically applauded festival spanned 14 stages in venues across Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and elsewhere, featuring over 700 artists and 150 groups from all over the world.
Winter Jazzfest has become a home for exciting and forward-thinking contemporary jazz being created and played right now, and as result it manages to attract a deeply engaged, discerning audience that includes a diverse range of fans, critics, journalists and tastemakers from across North American and over 20 countries quickly becoming a key destination for those looking for new talent and new sounds.
With 2020 coming to a close, there’s one thing most of us can agree on: for the most part, this past year has been a fucking asshole. Personally, this year has been full of gut-punches, frustrations, disappointments, anxiety, loss, isolation, boredom, fear and loss. The year started off with my mother receiving a uterine cancer diagnosis. Although that news threw us both into a loop, I had the solace and distraction of work. There were shows to shoot and write about, artists to potentially interview, new material to write about and countless ways to promote my work to others. But my late nights were often filled with dread and anxiety over my financial standing and mom’s health.
Without having regular access to money, having a social life around adults — let alone adults my age — had proven to be extremely difficult. I had spent the better part of the previous year feeling adrift, isolated and depressed without much in the way of options. Then the pandemic came along. Oddly enough, at that particular moment, I was thriving. Suddenly, it was like the entire world finally understood how I had been feeling throughout the previous year.
The pandemic also heightened more uncertainties about my financial well-being and about mom’s health. During the pandemic’s first month or two, the neighborhoods of Elmhurst, Corona, Woodside, Forest Hills and East Elmhurst were the epicenter and it meant that until — and only until — the infections went down, my mom couldn’t begin cancer treatment, which included having a hysterectomy and chemotherapy.
Before the pandemic, mom’s treatments were supposed to take place at Elmhurst Hospital sometime after my birthday. Ironically, as a result of the pandemic, and profoundly racist and shitty care that she complained about, mom wound up being transferred over to Mount Sinai, where she received much better, much more thorough care. Thankfully, the people at Mount Sinai generally treated my mom, as though she were their own mom and it made the fact that I couldn’t be there with her for her operation or for her chemotherapy sessions a bit easier to deal with.
Of course, the pandemic threw career plans and coverage plans out of the window for a variety of reasons. Initially, I was going to write an extensive review of Winter Jazzfest — but 2020; however, I took some great photos that I’ll be sharing with you throughout the close of 2020 and the start of 2021.
When it came to which showcases I’d cover, I was thrilled to see that BBC Music’s Gilles Peterson was hosting a Winter Jazzfest showcase. Peterson’s taste is impeccable and I had a sense that whoever would play the showcase would be dope — and I wasn’t wrong. Peterson’s BBC Music Introducing and PRS Foundation presented showcase at Le Poisson Rouge featured British acts that bridged hip-hop, neo-soul, soul, house music, and jazz in a seamless, funky fashion:
Check out photos below.