By Richard L. Gaw
The 2,500 people who braved the swelter of a 95-degree late afternoon at the Longwood Gardens Wine & Jazz Festival on June 1 were left wondering which was hotter, the heat or the Branford Marsalis Quartet?
Headlining a sold-out festival that initially drew more than 4,000, Marsalis -- a three-time Grammy award-winning saxophonist -- was part of a concert lineup that featured jazz vocalist Joanna Pascale, the Cuban jazz of the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, and Anat Cohen, a jazz clarinetist and saxophonist. Marsalis, a world-renowned musician and New Orleans native, tore through a set that traded riffs from pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer and Philadelphia native Justin Faulkner.
Along the festival's perimeter, 22 Pennsylvania-based wineries from the western reaches of the state to Chester County showcased their varietals, by the taste, the glass or the bottle. Among them were the Chaddsford Winery in Chadds Ford, the Flickerwood Wine Cellars in Kennett Square, the Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg; and the Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford.
The annual event, sponsored in part by WRTI-FM and Mainline Magazine, also included wine classes taught by wine educators Hudson Austin and spokespersons from the nearby Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery. Hundreds of prepared picnic baskets were distributed to people who had reserved them in advance, and a fresh fare tent provided seasonal treats, including artisan cheeses, specialty sandwiches, market salads and desserts.
It seemed that the only unwelcome guest at the festival also made the largest impression. By the start of the event at noon, temperatures rose to well over 90 degrees. By 3 p.m., many in the audience were either escaping to shadier locations along the concert pathway, or leaving the festival entirely. Emergency service vehicles were on hand to treat a few in the audience who were overcome by the heat. In deference to the rising temperatures, Marsalis took the stage in a light blue, long-sleeved shirt and dark pants.
"This shirt has cuff links, so I guess it's too late to take it down now," he joked.