Arts and Entertainment

Fall Jazz returns to Langley next week

The vocal jazz sounds of
The vocal jazz sounds of 'Cocoa Martini' are on tap for the fourth annual Fall Jazz Concert at South Whidbey High School Auditorium. The group features vocalists Karen Shivers, Mercedes Nicole and Kimberly Reasons.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Maureen Girard

If you are American, the words “American experience” have a certain power to reverberate in the heart.

These words smack of the nation’s history and in the area of art, America experienced a cultural revolution with the birth of jazz and blues music.

These particular forms of music have given a powerful voice to the cultural achievements of Americans and their struggle for freedom.

American music has united people and created an identity that is particular to that heart-wrenching and full-of-pride American experience.

In the vein of passing that history on to young musicians, jazz music is played, studied and taught at private and public institutions all around the globe.

Jazz education is particularly strong around here and is visible in the accomplishments of local musicians such as those by the South Whidbey High School Jazz Ensemble at the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York last spring.

Additionally, the nonprofit South Whidbey Association of Jazz Educators is another reason South Whidbey is particularly lucky in regards to jazz music, and is a valuable gem that manages to do its part in keeping one of the most precious commodities of the American experience alive, even in this tiny portion of the world.

The fourth annual Fall Jazz Concert, presented by the South Whidbey Association of Jazz Educators, is the yearly culmination of that noble endeavor. The line-up of prestigious musicians who offer to play at this concert each year proves that the legacy of the American jazz experience is indeed an important one to the jazz greats who have already made a life for themselves as accomplished musicians.

The concert will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4 at South Whidbey High School Auditorium in Langley.

The high school students of the jazz band “Blue Matter” will open the evening with a showcase of their repertoire.

“Blue Matter” took a first place at the last Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, so the Fall Jazz Concert audience can look forward to a taste of the impressive talent that exists among the young musicians on the local scene.

Following them is an outstanding program that includes some of the leading musicians working on the jazz circuit today.

Jazz educator, pianist and concert organizer Maureen Girard will perform music from her new CD that is being produced in Langley at Robbie Cribb’s Sound Trap Recording Studio.

Two-time Grammy nominee and pianist Jessica Williams returns and will perform compositions from her new CD “Rain.”

New to island audiences is the vocal jazz group “Cocoa Martini,” featuring vocalists Karen Shivers, Mercedes Nicole and Kimberly Reasons.

Powerhouse pianist Randy Halberstadt and blues and jazz pianist Overton Berry will also perform along with Seattle’s first-call bassist Clipper Anderson and percussionist Brian Kirk.

All of these musicians are dedicated to the continuing pursuit of keeping jazz alive in America, while the South Whidbey Association of Jazz Educators, too, seeks to enhance music performance and education on South Whidbey.

Partial proceeds from the concert will be used to buy a new piano for the middle school band room in memory of the late Michael Nutt, a community activist and accomplished musician from Langley. Concert goers will be able to donate to the piano fund at the concert.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students, seniors and teachers and are available at Useless Bay Coffee Company in Langley, the The Bookbay in Freeland or at the box office from 5:30 p.m. at South Whidbey High School on the evening of the performance.

For arrangements for will-call tickets, click here. Will-call tickets will be held until 6:45 p.m.

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