JAZZ AND WHOLE FOODS – PERFECT TOGETHER By Joe Lang In July of 2007, jazz vocalist Yashmin Charnet-Abler happened into the Bowery location of the Whole Foods Market, and found her way into the food court. It immediately struck her that this would be a great venue for presenting live jazz. She made a few inquiries in the store that led her to contact Rob Twyman, the Regional Vice President of Whole Foods, who was open to the concept of presenting jazz at the Bowery store. Charnet-Abler and her husband, jazz guitarist Paul Abler, had a production company named Bossa Nova Music Productions that was primarily involved in producing and promoting their recordings. Paul Abler, who plays and endorses Gibson guitars, explored the idea with Gibson about possible sponsorship involvement with presenting live jazz at Whole Foods. They were open to this concept, and also included support from their Baldwin Piano subsidiary. Since arriving in New York from his hometown of Detroit about five years ago, Abler had performed with many New York area musicians, and was in position to also handle the booking arrangements for the proposed Whole Foods concerts. The upshot was the First annual Gibson/Baldwin Jazz Festival at Whole Foods. Twyman stated: “I believe that food and music comforts the soul, and when the opportunity came to work with Gibson/Baldwin and their roster of talent, I naturally thought the Bowery store was the perfect location for this groundbreaking event.” The initial event took place on November 3-4, 2007 in the Bowery Whole Foods Market. Among the featured performers were the guitar duo of Jack Wilkins and Howard Alden, guitarist Joshua Breakstone, pianists Allen Farnham and John DiMartino, and the Spirit of Life Ensemble led by trumpeter Ted Curson, with special guest Yusef Lateef. The festival was an artistic and critical success. Whole Foods was pleased with this initial foray into the presentation of live jazz, and has subsequently retained Bossa Nova Music Productions to expand the marriage of Whole Foods and live jazz. The Bowery store has subsequently hosted a second two-day festival in August of 2008, as well as other occasional events, including live music, and two book signings by Sue Mingus, the widow of the legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus. Festivals have also been held in the Montclair and West Orange locations in New Jersey. Weekly concert series are currently being held in the Tribeca store in Manhattan, as well as in the West Orange store. New weekly series are planned starting in January in the recently opened Union, New Jersey location and starting in February in the Madison, New Jersey store. Weekly concerts will also resume this Spring in the Montclair and Ridgewood, New Jersey Whole Foods Markets. A new Whole Foods store will open in March in Paramus, New Jersey, and jazz programming is also planned for that location. All of the concerts are presented free for the customers of Whole Foods. Having Whole Foods as a committed supporter of live jazz is exciting for jazz enthusiasts and for the dedicated musicians who help to keep this art form alive and well. The Whole Foods organization is devoted to wellness for its customers, and their presentation of this great music adds a special dimension to that devotion. Following is the jazz schedule for Whole Foods. Whole Foods Market - Tribeca, 270 Greenwich St., New York, NY, (212) 349-6555 Gibson/Baldwin Jazz Series - _ Tuesdays, 7-9 P.M.: Whole Foods Market, 235 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, NJ, (973) 669-3196 Baldwin Jazz Solo Piano Series - Tuesdays, 5-7 P.M. The Osteria @ Whole Foods, 2245 Springfield Avenue, Union, NJ, (908) 688-1455 Gibson Jazz Series - Fridays, 7-9 P.M.: For future Whole Foods concert information you can check the Bossa Nova Music Productions website (www.bossanovamusicproductions.com).