Allentown JazzFest Night 1: As Diverse as Jazz Itself

The 2017 edition of Allentown JazzFest started off as only a festival befitting of this genre should: by offering a diverse programming lineup; one where the unexpected is the established norm.

Interestingly enough, Wednesday night genre started not with rhythms and horns, but with conversation. Local organization knw.+ took to Moravian Book Shop in Center City Allentown to kick off JazzFest with an edition of its live talk show series, Couch Conversations. We caught some of the group’s conversation with Gail W. Boyd, Esq., who was asked about topics ranging from her background, to the connection she feels music — and in particular, jazz — shares with social responsibility. Boyd’s feedback was insightful, utilizing her upbringing in Chicago and her years of experience working with musician clients to shed light on the historical and modern-day significance of jazz.

While that was going on, the music was getting set to kick off just down the street at The Dime. Jersey native B.D. Lenz crossed into Pennsylvania with his trio to perform extended improv jams of jazzed up covers alongside his ensemble’s originals.

After the conclusion of B.D. Lenz’s set, we hustled over to Bell Hall to get ready to rock with The Collingwood. The quartet — which hails from a combination of Delaware County and Delaware, the state, added a unique element to JazzFest with a rock sound comparable in some ways to Modest Mouse or Franz Ferdinand, mixed with a prog-rock sensibility, tied together by the improvisational spirit of jazz.

We have much more coming from JazzFest throughout the week, including tonight’s action, which starts once again with Couch Conversations at Moravian Book Shop at 5:30 p.m.

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