Allentown is known for their variety of bars and late hour activities. This weekend, Nietzsche’s JazzFest IV looks to make its mark. The event runs through Sunday and features at least five groups each day. That includes jam sessions that start in the early morning hours.
Festival organizer Ellen Pieroni said there is an intimacy to listening to jazz in a place like Nietzsche’s.
“Seeing jazz musicians and groups play in that front bar room, that super intimate feeling with all the regulars at the bar. The musicians are like two feet away from your barstool with no amplification. They are standing right on the carpet in fron of you. I have always loved that vibe,” Pieroni said.
The Jazz-rock fusion band Jonathan Scales Fourchestra is this year’s headliner. Scales is a steel pannist, drummer, and composer. It’s not something you would usually associate with jazz, but festival organizer Ellen Pieroni said she he fits perfectly into this year’s lineup.
“He’s a composer and innovator and has the most killin’ jazz-fusion, even like prog-rock kind of band. His most recent album Pillar was what really sold me on booking him this year,” she said. “It absolutely just blew me away.”
Their recent album featured guest artists like Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck, and Shaun Martin. The group plays Saturday at 11:30 p.m.
Pieroni said the multi-day festival almost didn’t happen this year after last year’s low turnout.
“It was in April and there was an ice storm. It totally derailed the Saturday and the Sunday of the festival. I had bands canceling. They were pretty dead,” she said. “It takes a lot of effort (to put) in to the festival and I do a lot of the organization myself. So after last year I was like, ‘Really? An ice storm after all of this?’”
There are fewer acts this year than in past festivals. Pieroni says refining the lineup was a priority.
“That actually allowed me to open up the schedule a little bit more and let bands play for longer, because in the past I just overbooked so many bands. Some people would come in and play for a half-hour and you know how jazz music goes. You can’t really play that many songs in a half-hour slot in get everything to run on time and all of that,” she said.
To see the full lineup, click here.