By Barbara B. Covell
For the TODAY
America’s music returns to the Oregon Coast for a 15th year this weekend, with a world-class lineup that promises to bring the house down. The Oregon Coast Jazz Party is a staple for jazz and blues aficionados who delight in the signature melodies and rhythms of this country’s homegrown music.
This year’s theme is a timely tribute to Women in Jazz. Featuring an all-star lineup playing solo and ensemble sets, educational clinics, and intimate nightcap performances; the weekend program also features local jazz artists and student musicians.
“We wanted to do something special for our 15th” said music director Holly Hofmann, “and it is a good year to feature women in jazz. We were able to bring the best of the best in the business. I’ve known all these players for years and been fortunate enough to have played with them.”
Hofmann is a celebrated jazz flutist who has played international venues along with her husband, pianist Mike Wofford. She describes jazz as America’s art form in music, because it originated from the American cultural melting pot.
“Jazz has blues and rhythmic components that people relate to,” she said. “For example, look at the Great American Songbook. Jazz artists like to take familiar melodies and differentiate by improvising on it, then return to playing the melody again. The rhythms are infectious. It’s very engaging for audiences, a true visual art form. Just picture drummers, a stand-up bass, violin, trumpets and saxophone players. Everyone should have the experience of hearing our country’s music.”
Sponsored by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, the Jazz Party is held at the Newport Performing Arts Center and utilizes the Alice Silverman Theatre, the Studio Theatre, as well as the lobby area. Each venue features solo, duo, trio or quartet acts. All feature women jazz artists. “This is very exciting, uplifting music,” Hofmann said. “People are ebullient and happy when they leave a jazz performance. If you haven’t been to the jazz festival before, this is one to pick. And, bring your daughters. Women have been overlooked in the jazz idiom for a long time. It hasn’t been easy for any of us; the level of talent in this festival will make women and men feel extremely proud and aware of how women have progressed. We are resilient.”
The three-day event begins Friday, Oct. 5 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 7, featuring seven sessions and four free events.
Friday, Oct. 5
Session 1: Opening night
7 pm — Helen Sung Trio: Helen Sung, Tom Wakeling, Alvester Garnett.
8 pm — San Francisco String Trio: Mimi Fox, Mads Toller, Jeff Denson.
9 pm — Sinne Eeg Quartet: Sinne Eeg, George Colligan, Dylan Sundstrom, Charlie Doggett.
Session 2: Friday Nightcaps
10:15 pm — Lobby Rhythm Section: Mike Wofford, Tom Wakeling, Alvester Garnett with guests Sinne Eeg, Yve Evans, Holly Hofmann.
— In the Studio Theatre: Mimi Fox, Serena Geroe, Jeff Denson.
Saturday, Oct. 6
Session 3: Solos, Duo, Trio, Quartet
10:15 am — Soloists: Kerry Politzer, Serena Geroe, Helen Sung, Yve Evans. Duo: Sinne Eeg, George Colligan. Trio: Regina Carter, with Holly Hofmann & Mike Wofford.
11:15 am — Tanya Darby Quartet: Tanya Darby, Mike Wofford, Tom Wakeling, Charlie Doggett.
Session 4: Specialty Sets
1:30 pm — Kerry Politzer’s Bossa PDX Quintet: Kerry Politzer, Melissa Carroll, Ben Graves, Dylan Sundstrom, George Colligan.
2:30 pm — Spotlight on Young Jazz Musicians: Serena Geroe, Helen Sung, Dylan Sundstrom.
3:20 pm — Taft High School Jazz Ensemble with special guests, directed by Mike Freel.
4 pm — Discussion & Happy Hour (Free): Lobby. Join Music Director Holly Hofmann and selected artists for a Q&A session.
Session 5: Smokin’ Saturday Night Headliners
7 pm — Grace Kelly Quartet: Grace Kelly, Julian Pollack, Julia Adamy, Evan Hughes.
8:30 pm — Regina Carter Quartet: Regina Carter, Xavier Davis, Chris Lightcap, Alvester Garnett.
Session 6: Saturday Nightcaps
10:15 pm — Lobby Rhythm Section: Mike Wofford, Tom Wakeling, Charlie Doggett, with special guests Tanya Darby, Yve Darby.
— In the Studio Theatre: Helen Sung, with special guests.
Sunday, Oct. 7
9 am — Bossa Nova with Kerry Politzer (Free): A lecture and demo of the bossa nova style presented by Just Jazz in the Studio Theatre.
9:30 am — Wake Up with Jazz (Free): Coffee and music in the PAC Lobby, with local favorites John Bringetto, Bill Hartsell, and Craig Snazelle
Session 7: Vocal Jazz Wrap Session
10:30 am — South Eugene High School Dorians Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
11 am — Gospel Jazz with Yve Evans, Tom Wakeling, Charlie Doggett, later joined by the South Eugene High School Dorians Vocal Jazz Ensemble
12:30 pm — Closing Jam with special guests.
Ticket prices vary. Students $12 per session. For details, call 541-265-2787 or go to www.coastarts.org/events.