With plenty of local farms in the area, most of us are familiar with farm shares, where in exchange for paying a local farmer up front, they provide you with a share of their harvest each week.
For the past decade, that same community support model has also helped sustain local music. Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares uses the same money upfront – product later concept to maintain a vibrant jazz scene here in western Mass. Producer Dave Fraser brings us this story.
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Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: With plenty of local farms in the area, most of us are familiar with farm shares, where in exchange for paying a local farmer up front, they provide you with a share of their harvest each week. For the past decade, that same community support model has also helped sustain local music.
Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares uses the same money up front – product later concept to maintain a vibrant jazz music scene here in western Mass. Producer Dave Fraser brings us this story.
Glenn Siegel, Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares: I have always responded to music and sound in a more profound way than other senses, I would say. And grew up playing baritone horn in junior high school and high school and always had a deep relationship to to music.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: In an effort to bring more jazz to the region, Glenn Siegel, along with his wife, Priscilla Paige, started Jazz Shares in 2012. It’s based on the community sustained agriculture CSA or farm share model, where stakeholders ensure the success of the farm by prepaying for food.
Pioneer Valley Jazz Share members purchase shares to provide the capital needed to produce concerts at various venues throughout the valley.
Glenn Siegel: The idea was to produce 10 concerts in a season, basically one a month. But because the number of outstanding musicians far outstrips that, and we have adopted a culture of “yes,” as far as we can take it, this year, we’re doing 16 concerts.
Dave Fraser: It’s a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that Siegel and his wife first introduced to some friends at a backyard party.
Priscilla Page, Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares: Why don’t we invite some friends over and like, pitch the idea and see if we could get one hundred people to buy in at $125 each, and then we could produce a season of concerts.
Dave Fraser: That was 10 years ago, and Jazz Shares is still going strong, producing at least 10 and sometimes more concerts each year in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.
Glenn Siegel: What you’re likely to hear at a Jazz Shares concert can vary wildly from the most free, atonal, arhythmic way of organizing music to, you know, in the pocket jazz. You know, Orrin Evans Trio, who’s coming up in a few weeks that’ll be in the tradition, and, you know, recognizable.
So, what we’re providing is, you know, a different slice; a wider slice of of what jazz is.
Dave Fraser: With COVID restrictions still in place, admission to Jazz Shares concerts comes with proof of vaccination at the door and the wearing of masks.
But for this season, Siegel and Page have many concerts scheduled through February, including four this month.
Priscilla Page: They’re always a little bit different because we work in so many different venues. That’s another thing — we sort of travel through the Valley.
So, you know, we were at the Shea Theater, we’ll be in Goshen at the Institute of Musical Arts, we’ll be here in Northampton at 33 Hawley Street, we’ll be down at the Community Music School. So, each venue is a little different, so the feeling is a little bit different.
Dave Fraser: Our cameras were able to catch Steph Richards and Supersense at the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen. Richards is known for her experiments in jazz and her collaborations with pioneer artists including Henry Threadgill, Laurie Anderson, and David Byrne.
Jason Robinson, Harmonic Constituent, performed at the Northampton Community Arts Trust recently. Robinson is a saxophonist and composer and teaches music at Amherst College.
Glenn Siegel: It is truly satisfying, it’s — it’s my calling, I would say. You know, when we’re pulling in the driveway, we’ll just say “another one in the books!”
We’ve done about a hundred Jazz Share shows, and, you know, in my career in the valley, I’ve produced, you know, over three hundred shows. And so, we keep adding more to the book and it is…it is truly gratifying.