Wednesday's Jazz in the City event, held at Perseverance Park at Salina and Fayette streets, was kind of blue. In the jazz realm, that's always a good thing.
As the sun set, the Donna Alford JaSSBand bopped and grooved through Herbie Hancock, James Brown and Michael Jackson covers for a crowd of over 100, most nodding along in lawn chairs. Behind the listeners, a sea of blue concrete — recently painted as part of the "Flowscape" public art project — led to crafts, coffee and clothing vendors arranged around the edges of the park.
That intersection of downtown's different vibrant personalities has made Jazz in the City a notable calendar event since 2002. This year, local organizations like the Landmark Theatre, the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Recess Coffee and the [re]think syracuse blog mingled alongside the live jazz musicians. It created an atmosphere that celebrated the city's unique character while bringing an end to its summer festival season.
Before Alford and her band played two main-stage sets, a youthful three-piece called Noteified charmed a smaller group of listeners across the park. Tristan Spearing, 17, who played bass, said he didn't know he was performing until Tuesday night, making the show a bit of an impromptu set. The drummer, Scott Madonia, 16, said they only rehearsed for this gig once, though the band has been active since last October in different lineups.
"My dad played a gig with the piano player a few months ago, and then he told me about him. That's when we got in touch with him. It's my first time playing live with him."
By the end of the night, some listeners took to dancing near the stage. It called back to the beginning of the evening, when the KC Cuse Line Dancers stepped in sync on a colorful blue square in the corner of the park. After the music ended, vendors folded up their tents, musicians tucked away their horns and the crowd finally cleared out. Jazz in the City had ended, until next year.