Since the inaugural show in 1990, the Magic Triangle Jazz series has offered the Amherst region unique performances by a wide array of artists in an intimate venue. 

In this digital exclusive, Founding Director Glenn Siegel reflects on one of the most memorable performances he experienced. 

Learn about the Magic Triangle Jazz Series in our full interview with Founding Director Glenn Siegel. 

Read the full transcript:

Glenn Siegel, Magic Triangle Jazz Series: Well, one concert, which I think is probably the most unique concert, was done by a bass player who I’ve also worked with quite a bit. His name is Joe Fonda, and he actually lived in the Pioneer Valley for a time, but he’s in New York now.

He did a program called From The Source, which not only had, you know, a drummer and a pianist and a trumpet player, but it had a tap dancer, Brenda Bufalino, and it also had a sound artist. She’s actually a healer — Vicki Dodd is her name.

And she had a table, a massage table, on the stage. And we actually brought up a member of the audience, and she did this sound work, this vocalizing, which was so unbelievable and so out of the ordinary. And the tap dancing, which was also pretty unique.

So, that concert with Joe Fonda and From the Source was…I don’t know if I would say it was my favorite, but it was certainly the most unique concert that I’ve done.

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Well, and it brings me to another question: what is the experience like at one of these series for those who didn’t have the opportunity to experience it?

Because I imagine everyone is it’s a different situation for everyone.

Glenn Siegel: So, the experience was very intimate. People are very close to the musicians, physically, and very quiet. You know, there was no bar or comings and going, so it was really a quiet listening situation.

So, people had varying reactions, but we had a very, very loyal audience, a core audience of people who would come almost all the time. And then we had other people who would, you know, come and go and students, of course, would come and go.

So, the experience was pretty intense, I would say, generally speaking.

Zydalis Bauer: And as curator, did it ever make you nervous when the concert would happen, because, you know, this is your baby?

And so, how — were you ever, like, hesitant or worried about how the audience would receive each series?

Glenn Siegel: Well, one of the things that I’m most grateful for over the years is that I had full creative curatorial control over the programing. And because we were subsidized by the University and not dependent on ticket sales for most of our revenue, I could lead the audience. Most presenters that I know have to be aware of not getting too far ahead of their audience and be worried about audience reaction. I could educate audiences and produce concerts of artists that people should know about, even if they didn’t know about them.

And I should say that even though most people didn’t know the names of the people we were producing, we produced many, many MacArthur Genius Grant recipients and Doris Duke Awards and NEA Jazz Masters. So, these are people who, while maybe not in the public eye in the same way as larger venues would present, their — their critical reputations were stellar, and these were world-class musicians.

Zydalis Bauer: Now, as curator, what will be the thing that you miss the most now that this series has ended?

Glenn Siegel: Well, you know, having the budget to be able to produce artists of that stature, I’ll certainly miss that.

You know, Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares is a small, grassroots nonprofit. And so we don’t have the resources that — that the Magic Triangle Series had. And but — but even so, the Magic Triangle series had a pretty limited budget compared to some of my peers at the Fine Arts — at the UMass Fine Arts Center.

There are so many great musicians working in my field, in the creative music, the jazz field, that I can produce for the rest of my life and not even scratched the surface. So, I’m looking forward to producing more concerts.