As the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium continues to focus on building a more vibrant and sustainable jazz scene here in Madison and Dane County, their popular Strollin’ Series wraps up with Strollin’ Hilldale on Friday, Sept. 18.
Strollin’ Hilldale is a grassroots event and a neighborhood jazz showcase that features nine bands and seven hours of live music with no cover charge. This will be the sixth “Stroll,” an idea that the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium (GMJC) hatched last year. The neighborhoods previously strolled so far were Schenk’s Corners (twice), South Park Street, Monroe Street, and First Settlement.
“The success of these Strolls showed that there is a jazz audience in Madison,” says Nick Moran, who along with GMJC board member Howard Landsman, is one of the coordinators of Strollin’ Hilldale. “Sometimes, it can be a little harder to get them to newer venues. Then you take the chance of having live music and they don’t see that cultivation right away. So this project is a way to see an instant audience and it also allows us to help venues find appropriate acts for their space.”
Hilldale contacted the Jazz Consortium after seeing previous Strolls and were excited about the prospects of the event. “It was a pilot program last year and people really liked it,” Moran says. “People and neighborhoods have been contacting us more and more as these events get more known and people can see the success of it. That’s been really encouraging.”
“Jazz crawls” are something that happen in big cities on a fairly regular basis but something relatively new for a smaller town like Madison.
“The Greater Madison Jazz Consortium has a few core goals,” Moran says. “One of those goals is to find better-paying opportunities for our local jazz musicians and another goal is to develop new venues. So the Strollin’ project helps with both of those goals in a very fun way.”
Moran is a well-known jazz bassist and a member of El Clan Destino and other Latin jazz bands. He also works part-time for the GMJC.
The Strollin’ idea came from the Madison musician community, Moran says, through a series of town hall-style meetings in the winter of 2014. The venue pays an act and the consortium matches that payment to hire additional acts. Audience donations are also collected and all the money goes directly to the band.
With a staggered performance schedule, people can stroll from stage to stage and sample many different musical styles. The Strollin’ Hilldale performance schedule is as follows:
Metcalfe’s Market Outdoor Stage (moves indoors in front of Macy’s if bad weather)
5:00 PM: Live Soundz Ensemble from the Goodman Community Center
5:30 PM: Madison Music Foundry Student Jazz Ensemble
6:15 PM: UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, Johannes Wallmann, Director
Hilldale West Plaza Outdoor Stage (moves indoors in front of Macy’s if bad weather)
6:45 PM: Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Sextet
8:00 PM: Kid Jordan Second Line (New Orleans-style jazz featuring trombonist Darren Sterud)
7:30 PM: Bob Kerwin – Dan Flynn Duo
8:45 PM: The Stellanovas
Great Dane Brew Pub
9:15 PM: Madison Choro Ensemble
10:30 PM: The Big Payback
Moran notes that Strollin’ Hilldale’s youth stage, sponsored by the Madison Area Music Association, will feature three groups of student musicians, including one that emerged from the Consortium’s “Live Soundz on Saturday” jazz education program at the Goodman Community Center.
“We will really be featuring our younger people at Metcalfe’s Market Outdoor Stage,” Moran says. “For every Strollin’ event, we have a student group because a major goal of the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium is to cultivate the next generation of jazz musicians and jazz appreciators.
“Overall, we have a great variety going on at Strollin’ Hilldale,” he adds. “I think of jazz as a very broad and encompassing many different kinds of styles and we really kept that in mind when we set this up.”
Younger jazz artists and fans have come of age in an era when hip hop had a strong presence in American popular culture. Young people love their hip hop and pop music, but also have an appreciation for jazz. “I have noticed a little more interest in jazz among young people,” says Moran, who also coaches the Madison West High jazz ensemble. “I’ve noticed that the kids have really grown and are really trying to get out there and be performers in Madison and not just appreciators. I’m seeing it more and more. But I would like to see it even more.
“Part of getting more students to the events is having student performers — their friends can come and appreciate their music,” Moran adds. “Hopefully, they stick around for other venues. We try to have all ages at our venues.”
Adding to the Strollin’ Hilldale festivities will be drawings for free tickets to the Oct. 17 Bad Plus – Joshua Redman jazz concert at the Wisconsin Union Theater. There will also be gift certificates from Hilldale merchants including Sundance Cinemas, LUSH, Sur La Table, and Dolma’s Rejuventation. Evereve, Hilldale’s designer clothing store for moms, will also be offering customers a 15 percent discount during Strollin’ Hilldale.
“We are delighted that Hilldale is including live jazz in their celebration of the end of the major construction at the north end of the center,” says Cathy Sullivan, the GMJC’s event coordinator. “We hope our Strollin’ event will draw a large enough audiences that Hilldale venues will want to host live jazz year-round.”
The goal, Moran says, is to encourage more venues to have live music – jazz, especially. “Having more opportunities to play and listen to live music is a good thing for Madison,” Moran says. “We want to have a good payday for our musicians, as well. We want to show that this model that we’ve developed works and we want to encourage other people to try it.”
For more information about Strollin’ Hilldale, click here.