The Holmes Amphitheatre is packed for the 25th Jazz in the Pines.
Photo by Tom Pierce

Its spirit will rise in the future

In the July 19 issue of the Town Crier, Pamela Jordan, president and head of school for Idyllwild Arts, published a letter to the community. She described the origins of Jazz in the Pines, even before the first festival in 1994, its history and volunteers.

Then she announced, “In 2019, Idyllwild Arts will take a hiatus from Jazz in the Pines to reflect upon what we have heard and to reimagine the festival.”

That sentence has alarmed many and been misinterpreted by others. The 25th-annual Jazz in the Pines festival is not the last festival. Marshall Hawkins’ vision of music and jazz, his intent to see future generations love it and take it forward, will continue.

Evan Christopher, clarinetist and one of Hawkins first students, was assured the future was more known than he realized.

“The trajectory is transforming Marshall’s teachings into a value system,” Christopher said Sunday. He and several others had a meeting with school officials, festival planners and other prominent performers to discuss the direction.

Yves Evans highlighted a vocal class that she and Sherry Williams offered several years ago. Greater interaction between the professional performers and the future jazz artists may be a part of the next step, she hoped.

“The jazz festival can become a power house of all of Idyllwild Arts — the school, the summer program and the festival.”

John Newman, chief operating officer for the Idyllwild Arts Foundation and principal producer of Jazz in the Pines now, affirmed that a “brain trust” session occurred Sunday morning. Besides Jordan and Hawkins, Harry Pickens, Bob Boss, Evans, Christopher and others were involved.

Days of discussion about what the festival means preceded this moment. “It’s not going away,” Newman stated firmly. “It will be aligned with the mission of Idyllwild Arts.”

He added, “It is not simply how we teach music. It goes to keeping this American heritage — jazz — going into the future. We want to take it to another level. It’s not just a two-day event. Jazz in the Pines is an idea, a philosophy.”

So, Newman promised, “The spirit of Jazz in the Pines is here and will prevail.” Its form and shape may change, but that is in the spirit of human evolution.