I spent a warm summer evening with my wife over at Toledo Botanical Garden listening to the Toledo Jazz Orchestra play as part of the Jazz in the Garden concert series. Approximately 1,000 people turned out this evening, and for the most part the mosquitoes refrained from turning the crowd into a mega-buffet.
The Jazz Orchestra was joined by Nate Gurley for seven songs, and Ann Arbor drummer extraordinnaire Pete Sears sat in with the group. Though a bit rusty from an eight-month break in performing, the Orchestra worked its way through two sets that highlighted Count Basie swing arrangements. Crowd-pleasing standards like "One O'Clock Jump" and "April in Paris" kept the crowd happy, and the Orchestra had a great groove going tonight.
The crowd definitely tended toward the gray-haired set, though a few families with children showed up. I fear, however, that this is indicative of the fading of jazz as a popular genre of music, and I hope that my worries are set aside by a resurgence of interest in this distinctly American musical form.
Anyways, the Jazz in the Garden series winds up with an August 13 concert featuring vocalist Ramona Collins, followed by the season-ending performance on August 20 by Los Gringos. Tickets are $7 each, and you can bring your own cooler plus your folding chairs or a blanket for a relaxing and entertaining evening. Food and beverages are available at the concerts, and you can wait for post-concert traffic to thin by strolling through the grounds of the Garden as the sun sets.