String Summits

First, Second, Third, and Fourth American Jazz String Summits produced by Julie Lyonn Lieberman

Jazz String Summits in the United States were unheard of in the early 1980s. Only one Summit had taken place in Europe. Despite a rich history of improvisation on violin in slave communities, followed by an expansion into jazz violin, improvisation on violin (or bowed strings for that matter) was regarded as an uncommon use of the instrument outside of—and even within—the string community. Classical players tended to look down on string pioneers. In an effort to educate the public, I produced the First American Jazz String Summit in 1984 at Symphony Space in New York City. The concert featured:

L. Subramaniam, Darol Anger,  Dave Balakrishnan, John Blake, Jr., David Darling, Matt Glaser, Leroy Jenkins, Scarlet Rivera, Jay Ungar, Evan Stover, Betty McDonald, and Michael Levine

The first summit lasted for five hours but sadly, was not recorded. The press refused to cover the event and several string magazines were actually nasty when approached to review the event. The second Summit took place in 1986 at New York University and featured:

Turtle Island String quartet, David Darling, Leroy Jenkins with Sting,
and John Blake, Jr.

The Third Summit in 1988 took place at NYC’s jazz church, St. Peter’s Church. We made it into the New York Times weekend centerfold and the place was packed. Even Paul Simon came! This concert featured:

L. Shankar, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Vicki Horner Richards,
and John Blake, Jr.

And the fourth Summit in 2000 featured newer, lesser-known artists:

Heather Hardy, Joe Deninzon, Jenny Scheinman, Tia Hannah, and others




Claude at Julie’s String Summit