My friend Carolyn invented It’s Commonly Jazz at what was then Swifton Commons shopping center over 20 years ago. She was manager of the center, and wanted a promotion that would pick up the summer and get the attention of her customers. It did, and so the every-Thursday-in August jazz continued on after the shopping center closed, and than became Jordan Crossing, and the home of one of the biggest churches in Cincinnati, as well as the Community Action Agency.
At the end of last season, Carolyn felt the need for change. Her primary sponsor, Fifth Third Bank, agreed and thus was born It’s Commonly Jazz at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. Wow! What a difference a few miles makes.
Everything works so much better in gorgeous Eden Park. Much more room, all those lovely trees, a a lot of grassy area for the kids to play safely. Lots more younger people in the crowd, more diversity, chances to win more different kinds of prizes, just plain more fun. Parking is also just as easy – the entire Art Museum parking lot is available, as well as your favorite parking spot in the Park, wherever that is (I know we all have them).
Good choices for food: the Pit to Plate barbecue stand behind the stage, and Aunt Flora’s peach cobbler (from Findlay Market). Or you could do what I did a couple of times, and pick up my favorite eggplant sandwiches from What’s for Dinner in O’Bryonville.
The real bonus is the new more open and resonate sound in the bowl of the amphitheater. The line-up was wonderful as always. My favorite was the Tia Fuller Quartet, a group of women from New York City playing jazz with an ambient quality, with lyrics and ideas that were often spiritually-based. They played lots of hard driving jazz as well. The other three groups were great, too: Randy Villars, featuring Thelma Massey; Ron Jones Organ Quartet (the only one I missed) and the Mike Wade Quintet, featuring Ralph Peterson, rowdy and fun. I think all the groups when from Eden Park downtown to the Blue Wisp for the rest of the evening.
It’s Commonly Jazz also went green this year, using fans without wooden sticks, recycling the paper various groups handed out, and the water bottles consumed by all of us.
I know how hard Carolyn works on the Jazz – and I appreciate the way she makes it look effortless. So mark off the August Thursdays in your calendar for 2009 – the 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th. You’ll be glad you did!