The sixth annual Winter Jazz Weekend is set for Friday and Saturday, January 23-24, in Bridgeport at the Bridgeport Conference Center (BCC), according to event planners with the Bridgeport Arts Council (BAC). The theme of this year’s music and dining festival is “New York Nights”, billed as “a celebration of music and dining from Manhattan’s distinctive clubs and restaurants”.
Scheduled to appear on successive evenings on the Jazz at Charles Pointe stage is Eddie Allen’s PUSH, a New York City-based septet, presented on Friday at a five course dinner, and on Saturday with five dining stations featuring cuisine inspired by restaurants in five NYC neighborhoods.
“We want to offer a genuine taste of New York City, musically and with the dining,” said Mary Kay Greer, BAC Chairperson. “So we asked the West Virginia Jazz Society to work with the Bridgeport Conference chefs to make the event authentic Manhattan.”
Greer said the chefs plan an “Uptown Steakhouse” plated dinner on Friday evening featuring wedge salad, Manhattan Clam Chowder inspired by The Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, sliced filet ala Keene’s Steakhouse, plus similarly inspired dishes of crab stuffed shrimp, pasta, salad, and dessert.
On Saturday evening, five “Night On The Town” dining stations will feature dishes from five famous neighborhoods in New York. Among the selections are dishes enjoyed by BCC, BAC and WV Jazz Society staff during trips to New York City.
“Gnocci and Pesta with Sausage and Peppers is a knockout dish,” added Greer, “and one we are proud to introduce to the foodies in our area.”
On Saturday morning, in conjunction with BAC’s weekend event, the West Virginia Jazz Society and West Virginia Wesleyan College will host the sixth annual West Virginia Winter Jazz Academy for scholastic and college students. The Academy includes a luncheon and a performance opportunity in space donated by the Bridgeport Conference Center.
The Jazz Academy provides students with a demonstrated interest in jazz music the opportunity to meet, study with and perform with professional jazz musicians who appear in the Winter Jazz Weekend’s Friday and Saturday night performances.
This year, Eddie Allen, a trumpeter, band leader, composer and educator with a 30-year resume in the New York City jazz scene, will present to the students along with Dr. James Moore, Director of Jazz Programs at Wesleyan.
This will be the first year BAC has sponsored the annual Winter Jazz Weekend event, now in its sixth year. The first five editions of the weekend-long food, music and education festival were co-produced by the Bridgeport Conference Center and their partners in the jazz vision, the West Virginia Jazz Society.
BCC officials explained the long-term motivation behind their investment in jazz music, jazz music education, and jazz-themed events like Winter Jazz Weekend and others scheduled the past five years.
“It’s about cultural and economic development. Our long term goal has been to partner with a community-based group that wants to ‘own’ the event,” said Scott Duarte, BCC Director. “BAC members have been participating all along so it’s logical for them to become vested. We are very pleased with where they want to go.”