Sunday marks the start of the 17th Annual JVC Jazz Festival - New York, an international effort which will feature more than fifty musical events over the next two weeks.

Star saxophonist Mark Turner is one of scores of top-flight musicians JVC Jazz Festival President John Phillips is bringing to New York for the 17th annual event. "Over the years," he said, "we've presented almost every aspect of jazz from the very traditional to the most avant-garde and everything in between. And we also spread out and touch a lot of crossover musics [that] relate to jazz, like the blues and world music, and pop music, when it's appropriate. But the lion's share of what we present in New York is jazz."

The festival head says New York is a natural venue for an event of this scope, commenting that, "The Big Apple is kind of the home to jazz - more so than any other city in the world. The clubs, the musicians, the record companies make it kind of a center for jazz internationally."

From Carnegie Hall to Harlem's Apollo Theater to smaller Greenwich Village clubs, the diversity of festival venues reflects jazz's dazzling range. So does the list of headliners, which includes Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Miriam Makeba, Roy Haynes, Wynton Marsalis and Eddie Palmieri. For those who are new to jazz and its sometimes challenging sounds, John Phillips had this to say:

"Certainly some of the more adventurous forms of jazz are pretty demanding, but that is not to say they require education. You just have to listen hard to them. But there are so many permutations to what is known as jazz today. It seems to me that everybody should be able to find something they like and many people like it across the board. It is a wonderful and classic art form."

The JVC Jazz Festival New York begins Sunday and continues through June 29.