The Holmes Amphitheatre is full of happy, satisfied and enthused jazz aficionados. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

The 19th Annual Jazz in the Pines has come and gone, but the beautiful memories will linger forever, wafting through our minds along with all the mellifluous sounds heard those two days.


This year’s Jazz Fest illustrated the crossroads of several jazz stories. For example, Kenny Burrell, the guitarist, has been playing since the 1930s. He enchanted the Holmes Amphitheatre audience on Saturday. Then Sunday, Ray Goren, a 12-year-old blues guitarist, took control of the crowd in much the same way.

“This is jazz. Seeing how it evolves from one generation to another,” said Bubba Jackson, artistic consultant and emcee. Saturday’s headline performer, Gordon Goodwin, naturally encouraged the crowd to return next year, but he challenged them to bring someone “10 years younger and introduce them to this special music and amazing festival.”

While the pre-event jitters concerned Festival Chair Marsha Lytle, by Monday she knew the 2012 event was quite successful in all dimensions — financial, musical and in service.

“The preliminary gate figures indicate that Saturday was bigger than 2011,” she said. Although the initial pre-sales figures raised doubt for Lytle, the gate receipts and an unexpected surge from town sales have been better.

“We may not match last year’s gift to the school, but who knows, it’s early,” she said much more optimistically. “I’m more pleased than I expected.”

Of the performers, Lytle’s favorite was Mary Stallings, 71. “I really love female, vocal jazz.”

The bus service from the desert was successful, too, according to Lytle. She plans to repeat it next year, but ensure that it is advertised earlier so people are more aware of it. Cardiff buses, the company providing the festival vehicles, is supporting of continuing it, she added.

But one major change will unfortunately occur. Ted Cummings, long time chair of the festival’s logistics, has decided 2012 was his last year. Cummings, known for his thorough planning and preparation, will still be involved in other Idyllwild events. Typical of his mien, he has spoken to some people about trying to fill his shoes next year.

The festival attracts both new jazz fans and returning fans. Howard and Danielle Cook were at the head of Saturday’s line to attend their first Jazz Fest.

“I’ve been to Idyllwild and Danielle wanted to visit,” he said. “So I looked up the Jazz Fest and said she’d love it.”

Jazz musicians were unanimous in their praise for the event. Local jazz players Barnaby Finch and Paul Carman both expressed their pleasure performing in front of hundreds of ardent jazz aficionados.

While both men play in town frequently throughout the year, they separately described the festival’s audience as special and people who truly want to listen to great jazz. “Great listeners,” was Finch’s description.

Appearing for the first time in Idyllwild, Sweet Baby J’ai was totally captivated by the audience. During her performance, she walked among the audience and challenged them to sing with her. Then baptized them the Idyllwild Jazz Gospel Choir, which brought loud cheers and applause.