by Victoria Shore

Rose Music Hall in downtown Columbia was full of people as the Mo Jazz Music Festival kicked off its 30th year this past weekend. The festival was held virtually last year as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the community, but this year’s festival took place in person with health and safety measures implemented. Each guest who attended the festival was required to provide physical documentation of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event. 

Festivities began with a moment of silence to recognize the significance of the day on which it took place; the festival took place on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The music then began at 2:00 p.m. and lasted until dark, treating community members and festival staff to lively music and entertainment.

“It’s such a pleasure that I get to interact with the bands and talk with them,” said Leslie Taylor, who emceed the event. Taylor has been involved with the festival for 20 years and is an example of the dedication to jazz music that exists in Columbia.

A large variety of artists were featured at the event, from veterans of the festival like Latin fusion band La Movida to first timer Branjae, a funk and R&B performer. 

The lineup of artists featured at the festival exemplify the ideals of festival president Jeff Bassinson that “jazz does not discriminate; jazz welcomes everybody.” Bassinson is the head of the board of directors of the Jazz Forward Initiative, a non profit group that focuses on promoting jazz music in Columbia and its surrounding areas. In the past, the JFI has implemented jazz band programs in local schools and hopes to expand the reach of those programs in the future.

The Mo Jazz Music Festival will return next year to give downtown Columbia a taste of jazz once again, but until then, the Jazz Forward Initiative will continue to pursue its goal of supporting the arts and jazz artists in Columbia and beyond.

Edited by Ryan Cohen 

About Wagner, Cara (MU-Student)

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