Friday, April 30, 2010

All That Jazz and May Activities

All That Jazz

I am on the road with my first laptop; struggling with Word 7 and Wi-Fi. The reason for this trip was the Reno Jazz Festival (April 22-24) My husband, Ed, had attended this annual competition between middle and high schools and colleges for years. It had been a guy thing; a high school buddy (Bob) of Ed’s. a retired University of Reno professor and serious jazz trumpeter, would host a small high school reunion. But as the guys dropped out, I began attending.

The Festival consists of two days of jazz choir, combo and big band performances and three nights of concerts. The Friday night concert features a “big name” guest artist and the Saturday concert showcases some of the competition winners. We usually skip the Thursday night concert because it features the Collective, a University of Reno jazz faculty ensemble that is a little too avant-garde for our taste. Ed says they are doing the equivalent of presenting papers. And it is the only time we have time to play the penny slots.

The talent is amazing and it is encouraging to see that some schools still consider art important. Ed had come back with stories of 12 year old vocalists or trumpet players bringing tears to his eyes. The talent is still there but what is changing each year is jazz. All the groups are spending more time “outside the chord.” This is a term that I learned from Bob that describes the increase in dissonance in modern jazz. (Inside the chord describes church music, conventional and comfortable.) There is also a trend toward performing original compositions rather than standard tunes. Modern jazz doesn’t swing and I miss it.

This is not to say that the Festival wasn’t wonderful. We spent most of our time listening to the choir competition and were very pleased that the choir from Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, WA won their category. They had an older female soloist that we suspected had a singing career in a previous life. The winning high school, Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, sung an acapella version of "In the Wee Small Hours" that caused Bob to weep. The winning small school combo from Sisters, OR performed two sweet, melodic songs with vibes in the lead. And the winning bands from Seattle’s Garfield High School (they always do well) and Portland’s Sunset High School did swing – on one of their two tunes.

The other highlight was the Friday Night performance by the Bill Holman Big Band. Bill Holman, a gentleman in his 80’s, is a Grammy Award Winning saxophonist and arranger. He has arranged and composed for many of the best jazz musicians – Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Natalie Cole. He has some outstanding musicians in this band (Ed says he had some of the Stan Kenton band) and they could swing. But they didn’t swing the traditional tunes; they swung bebop and Thelonious Monk. And these songs had melodies buried beneath complex rhythmic structures and cascades of notes. Ed said it was the best big band concert he had ever heard. I appreciated Monk for the first time.

NOTE: The picture at the top is of the Contra Costa College, San Pablo CA, choir.

May Activities

April 29, May 6, 13, and 27: Community Conversations. Wings on the Human Spirit, the Visual and Performing Arts. April 29: “Music and Dance in the Balkans” by Daniela Ivanova-Nyberg, Professional dancer and teacher; May 6,“The Play’s the Thing” by Don Correll, LCC Drama instructor; May 13, “An Exploration in Dance” by Megan Jasurda, LCC Dance instructor; May 27, “Theatre as Consciousness” by Kurt Beattie from A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle. 12pm-1pm. Wollenberg Auditorium, Rose Center for the Arts, Lower Columbia College, Longview, Wash. Info: 360-442-2311 or

April 30-May 1-2, 7-9, 14-16: The Fantasticks. Dinner Theatre by The Storefront Theatre Company. 6:30pm; Sunday matinees1:30pm. Three Rivers Mall (next to Bath & Body Works), 351 3 Rivers Drive, Kelso. Info: Phillip A. Kennedy 360-487-6190 or e-mail

May 1, 8, 15, and 16: Longview Historic Preservation Month. May 1, Opening festivities, walking tour of old Westside homes, presentation of Historical Preservation awards. 10:00am-11:45am. The Merk on Commerce and Broadway, Longview. May 8: Walking tour of Historic Downtown. 10:00am-11:30am. The Merk on Commerce and Broadway, Longview. May 15: Walking Tour of Lake Sacajawea. 10:00am-11:30am. Meet at lake entrance at Kessler and Hemlock. May 16: Tour of Donnie Doble’s dairy barn. 1:00pm-4:00pm. 2703 Pacific Way, Longview. Info: 360-423-4427.

May 2: Kaleidoscope Concert. Classical, opera, tango and Broadway music. Celebration Concert Series. 3pm. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1428 22nd Ave., Longview. Info: Gary Lindstrom 360-431-8653.

May 8: KUKN Country Nashville Unplugged presents Billy Dean.7:30pm. Columbia Theatre.

May 14-15, 21-22: The Matchmaker: Mainstage Theatre production of Thornton Wilder play on which “Hello Dolly” is based. 7:30pm; 2:00pm on May 22. R.A. Long High School auditorium, 2903 Nichols Blvd, Longview.

May 15: 3rd Annual Antique Appraisal Day- Up to three items-art, jewelry, furniture, ceramics, glass, etc. to be appraised by Robin Caton and other guest appraisers from Portland and Seattle. Donation $5.00 to the Downtown Street Decorations fund. 10:00am-2:00pm.Teague’s Interiors, 1267 Commerce, Longview

May 15: Frank Ferrante as Grouch Marx (substitute for Jack Benny Show). 7:30pm. Columbia Theatre.

May 24: KLASS – concert of the Kelso-Longview associated schools symphony for children in grades 3-12 and Mark Morris band. 6:00pm. Mark Morris Cafeteria, 1602 Mark Morris Court, Longview.

May 26-29, June 2-5, 10-12. The Three Cuckolds – LCC Center Stage production of masked commedia. 7:30pm. Rose Center for the Performing Arts, 15th and Washington, Longview. Info:

May 27 – June 11: LCC Annual Student Art Show. Opening Reception: May 27, 5:00-7:00pm. . LCC Gallery at the Rose Center, 15th & Washington, Longview. lowercolu

Writers Wanted: Valley Bugler seeking writers to produce 400 word essays on their profession or passion. Contact Michelle Myre, Publisher, at

Grant Writing for Artists. Presented by Artists Trust. June 12. Vancouver, WA. Info: Miguel Guillen at 206/467-8734 x11, 866/218-7878 x11 (toll-free) or

Zydeco Dance Lessons: Thursdays April 22-May 20. Classes 6:30pm-7:30pm; CD dancing 7:30pm-8:30pm. Public Welcome. No experience or partner necessary. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1428 22nd Ave. Longview. Info: Chere Weiss 360-430- 8865.

No comments: