Jazzfestival saves best for last

Published on Thu, Jul 13, 2006 by Jack Kintner

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Jazz festival saves best for last

By Jack Kintner

As if saving the best for last, the five remaining concerts in Blaine’s Jazz Festival week promise to serve up some of the best jazz available anywhere. Thursday noon, July 13, singers Greta Matassa and Vijay Singh will lead the vocal students in a mini-concert at the G Street boardwalk plaza. That evening at 7:30 the String of Pearls concert takes over the main stage at Blaine’s Performing Arts Center (PAC).

The concert features Matassa and Singh as well as the String of Pearls jazz combo, comprised of jazz festival faculty members Lou Abbott on drums, Tamara Danielsson, sax, Ted DeCorso, sax and clarinet, Randy Halberstadt, piano, Larry Holloway, bass, Greg Hopkins, trumpet, Jim McFalls, trombone and Chris Woitach, guitar. Singh will perform with them in the first half while Matassa, backed by Abbott, Clipper Anderson on bass and Darin Clendenin on piano will be the entire second half of the program.

A bonus for the evening is Blaine bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann performing his composition Dead Elvis, “a musical adventure,” he said, “so you should be ready for anything, including Elvis.”

Kuuskmann will be backed by some as yet unnamed faculty members and Blaine violinist Mary Kay Robinson. String of Pearls tickets are $15, but the other four concerts are free.

Friday’s noon concert features the Let’s Rock faculty combo which will showcase guitar player Chris Woitach of Bellingham, and that evening on the PAC main stage the center of attention swings to the outstanding jazz students who will also be playing with them in various combinations.

On Saturday it all comes to a close with a student Let’s Rock combo performing at 11 a.m. in the middle school cafeteria.

Faculty member and drummer Judd Sherwood had a lot more drum students this year than last, and so enlisted the help of life-long friend percussionist Jeff Busch, now at the Cornish School in Seattle, to teach Latin rhythms and other techniques that will be showcased at the 11 a.m. concert.

That will be followed at 1 p.m. by an afternoon of music and a street fair in downtown Blaine, where students will perform their closing concerts simultaneously at both the H Street and G Street plazas while a street fair will take place in between.

This is the festival’s fifth year and the performing groups have been unusually strong.

The week started off with two concerts on successive nights by the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, led by Fred Starr. Currently chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Starr was formerly vice-president of Tulane University, New Orleans, and president of Oberlin College in Ohio. Four of his more than 20 books deal with the history of New Orleans and its music.

They played to an enthusiastic crowd Monday night at the PAC and followed that with a free Musical Tour of Post-Katrina New Orleans concert Tuesday evening that was moved into the Bellingham Ferry Terminal from the Fairhaven village green due to rain.