Ladies First

Women in Jazz Festival Celebrates 30 Years

By Tim Walker

Full disclosure, here: I am a true lover of jazz music. My all-time favorite albums include Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. I’m crazy about Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Give my cell phone a call and you’ll find my ringback tone is “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down.” When, by chance, I met Herbie Hancock a few years ago in Las Vegas, I was rendered speechless while shaking one of his magic hands.

I’ve always thought of jazz as something special. It’s American to the bone. Vibrant. Real. Pure emotion boiled down into a sound that can touch your soul and make your spirit soar. And fans of this great music are looking forward to experiencing just that -– and, better still, all for free -– at the 30th Annual Michelob Dayton Women in Jazz Festival on June 24th, 2012.

The event, presented by the City of Dayton’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services and the Downtown Dayton Partnership, will be hosted by radio station WROU 92.1’s Garth Adams and Faith Daniels. Beginning at 1pm with a performance by Heidi Reynolds and the Ron Enyard/Sandy Suskind Quartet and wrapping up about 9pm with a performance by Cynthia Layne, the Women in Jazz Festival at Dave Hall Plaza — located downtown at the corner of Fourth St. and Jefferson St. — will definitely be the place to be in Dayton. The festival will also feature live music by Kay Harris and the Erik Augis Trio, Jeanne Harman, Evelyn Adams, Louise Cramer, Pamela Moore and the Lou James Trio, and, just before the headliner, the Jazz Central Band with a variety of vocalists. (Tammy Powell, who was originally scheduled to perform with the Jazz Central Band, was unfortunately forced to cancel due to personal reasons).

“This year’s headliner, Cynthia Layne, is originally from Dayton, although she’s been in Indianapolis for several years,” said Martin Romie, talent buyer for the festival. “I got hip to her through Butch Stone out at Jazz Central who’s been such a big help to me over the years. This is my seventh year with the festival and, of course, I succeeded Jim Nichols. Cynthia was in the festival for us a few years back -– we first booked her in 2008 – and she was one of the highlights that year, without taking anything away from the other performers, of course. We’re thrilled to have her back this year.”

Longtime newspaperman Jim Nichols, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 89, was the founder and driving force behind a number of local festivals, among them the Women in Jazz

Festival and the Blues Festival.

Cynthia Layne, whose CD releases include In Due Time, Reality and 2008’s Beautiful Soul, describes her music as “soothing to the soul…a mix of groove based R&B with strong jazz undertones.”

“I started hanging out in clubs with live bands and sat in whenever I got the chance,” Ms. Layne continues. “One band I sat in with was looking for a vocalist, and the rest is history!”

In addition to performing on the WGN television network, Ms. Layne has received recognition for her work from a number of organizations. In February of 2008, the video for her single “We” won a Gold Ring for Cinematography-Black & White at the Ad Club Indianapolis 2008 Brass Ring Awards. She was also named 2008 Arts and Culture Breakthrough Woman by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Indianapolis Chapter.

The 30th Annual Michelob Women in Jazz Festival begins at 1pm on Sunday, June 24th at Dave Hall Plaza downtown, at the corner of 4th and Jefferson. Admission is free and open to the public. All ages are welcome.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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Tim Walker, 46, was raised by wolves in W.V. after being abandoned by his family. Currently writing two mystery novels, he loves books, offbeat films, Miles Davis and pizza. He has broken his back twice, works as a DJ, loves his wife & kids and rarely howls at the moon these days, unless it's full.

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