Jazzfestival features free concerts

Published on Thu, Jun 15, 2006 by Jack Kintner

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Jazz festival features free concerts

By Jack Kintner

Blaine’s annual Jazz Festival takes over Blaine’s Performing Arts Center and much of the rest of town the second week in July. Highlights include a kick-off concert on Monday night with the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, this year’s featured professional group.
Scholarship support is also being sought to bring military dependents of soldiers currently serving in the middle east up from Fort Lewis. A scholarship that covers room, board and tuition is $600.

As always this year’s 17-member faculty includes a few new faces among the returning veterans such as the highly regarded sax player Tamara Danielsson, who, like Kenny G, is a protégé of John Jesson and the Pennsylvania trombonist Jim McFall.

Also new is Justin Melland, a Bellingham native whose parents live in Blaine and who now is working in the film industry. Last year he scored the Oscar-nominated Death of Kevin Carter.

Back after a year’s absence are trumpeter Ed Donohoe and vocalist Vijay Singh, and back again is the Queen of Blaine, at least for the week she’s here, local favorite and popular vocal teacher Greta Matassa.

The Repertory Jazz Ensemble offers a departure from the kind of jazz normally featured at the Blaine Festival. However, before you get out the straw hats and arm garters, this is definitely not your mother’s Dixieland Band. Instead it’s a good look at where jazz came from in the first place.
Founded by clarinetist and sax player Fred Starr, former president of Oberlin University, the nine-member group has been performing classic New Orleans jazz in authentic formats and with period instruments for almost 30 years. Members trace their musical and family roots to the earliest days of jazz. Tuesday night the group plays in Bellingham on the Fairhaven Village Green.

The popular String of Pearls concert, a part of the Pacific Arts Association concert series, will be held Tursday night as featured vocal performers Greta Matassa and Vijay Singh turn up the heat, backed by the Blaine Jazz Festival Faculty Combo. The evening will include a performance of “Dead Elvis” by Blaine’s own Martin Kuuskmann.
Friday night’s closing concert will feature advanced students sharing the stage with faculty.

On Saturday afternoon, all students get a chance to show what they’ve learned after a week of eating, sleeping and breathing nothing but jazz.
It’s the musical equivalent of throwing a party for all your friends and all their friends, too, an unpredictable and energetic afternoon that brings a critical mass of musicians together to see what happens.

Best of all, both Friday night and Saturday afternoon concerts are free.
Dates are from Sunday afternoon, July 9, to the closing concert on the following Saturday afternoon, July 15.

There are free concerts at noon at Marine Park on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. At 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening, there is a free concert in the Blaine Performing Arts Center. Monday and Thursday evening there are professionals performing. Ticket info is available online at pacificartsassoc.org and at Pacific Building Center. Tuition is $250, payable when registering. Room and board for out-of-town students is $350.

For more information or to help out with festival scholarship needs, call festival coordinator Sandy Wolf at 371-0141, e-mail swolf1216@aol.com, or visit www.pacificartsassoc.org