You needn't learn how to spell the name, but it helps to know that this lovely spot is just across 206 from the Community Park soccer fields. Turn onto Mountain Ave, take the first right into the paved parking lot, then head downhill past the wooden sign until you reach a pond with a trail around it. The amphitheater is tucked into the berm that shields this oasis from the noise of 206. The calendar of jazz concerts this summer is at www.bluecurtain.org (Note: try https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Curtain/113791645408). There may be other programming as well.
Most every Sunday morning at 8am, volunteers with the Pettoranello Foundation meet at the Gardens to tend to the landscaping, as they have for some 15 years, with help from township staff.
But I digress from the events of Saturday evening, June 14, when my daughter and I rode our tandem bike towards Pettoranello Gardens to catch the end of the show, unfazed by the storm front that loomed on the horizon. We arrived at the amphitheater at dusk, to find avant-garde alto saxophonist Oliver Lake playing with a guitarist and drummer, as lightning flashed in the background and the wind kicked up.
It was the most richly metaphorical performance I've ever heard. The wind kept blowing their written music off the stage, as audience members scrambled to retrieve them--their music all the while going places no written notes could ever convey. And seeds, probably from a cottonwood tree, swirled around them as they poured notes out into the night air. Their music and the approaching storm raged as one, with one indomitable force resisting envelopment by another.
People were reluctant to run for cover, mesmerized by the drama. Finally Lake played a short melody to end, and spoke parting words into the mic. The drummer stood up, still playing the drums, and called to the audience in semi-mock urgency to run for cover. "Grab something and run!" he said, and seconds later heavy raindrops began to fall. We biked towards home in the downpour, taking refuge at Conte's, where the closed doors and A/C made the storm seem a distant dream.