Pacific Lutheran University is bringing back its popular and free “Jazz Under the Stars” series beginning July 12. The series, which runs through mid-August, features a variety of artists including, I’m told, the final Bill Ramsay Big Band event. That concert will have a larger ensemble than normal and include many long time and well known Northwest musicians.
WHAT: 14th Annual Jazz under the Stars
WHEN: Thursdays 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. – July 12 to August 16
WHERE: Pacific Lutheran University – Mary Baker Russell Amphitheatre
July 12– Sommer Stockinger and Kareem Kandi
Sommer Stockinger, a native of Tacoma, has been performing jazz throughout the Northwest since 1997. Stockinge has evolved through traditional and Brazilian jazz, blues, and R&B, listing her strongest influences as Nina Simone, Chet Baker, João Gilberto, Nat King Cole, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Etta James, Ernestine Anderson, Nancy Wilson, Donny Hathaway, and Aretha Franklin. Stockinger has been performing Jazz since the age of 17, and began regularly gigging at local venues throughout Western Washington, particularly in Tacoma and Seattle. Stockinger became a regular, sitting in at Kelley’s in downtown Tacoma, and was mentored by the proprietor, big band legend, bassist Red Kelley, who was best known for playing with Buddy Rich and Stan Kenton during the reign of the big band.
July 19– Tracy Knoop
Tracy Knoop received his musical training at Berklee School of Music in Boston Mass. After leaving Berklee Knoop joined the world famous Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with which he was a member for ten years. Knoop has performed with such greats as Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Buddy Rich and Bernadette Peters.
July 26 – Rich Wetzel’s Groovin’ Higher Jazz Orchestra
Rich Wetzel and his Groovin’ Higher Orchestra bring an exciting and unique mix of big band jazz, jazz-rock fusion with an all-star lineup of top performing northwest jazz musicians from all over the Puget Sound. The group has three CDs to their credit, all of which at various points hit top ten rankings with jazz stations all over the world.
August 2 – David Deacon-Joyner Trio with Dennis Hastings
David Deacon-Joyner is Professor and Director of Jazz studies at Pacific Lutheran University. He is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, mentored by jazz piano great James Williams. He has performed with jazz artists such as Bobby Shew, Marvin Stamm, Marc Johnson, Ed Soph, and others. Dr. Deacon-Joyner is a professional vocalist in both studio and live settings, and is a composer and arranger. He currently arranges big band charts for Jeff Coffin, saxophonist with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and the Jeff Coffin Mu’tet, published by UNC Press. He is arranger, vocalist, and pianist for In Full Swing, a Dallas-based jazz vocal group act that appears with symphony pops orchestras across the country.
August 9 – Neil Andersson and Malibu Manouche
Malibu Manouche is a quartet that blends Gypsy jazz, surf, guitar classics, and original compositions to form an eclectic mix of instrumental music. Members are guitarists Peter Pendras and Neil Andersson, bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Mark Ivester.
August 16 – Tribute to Bill Ramsay Big Band
Ramsay is a jazz legend in the Pacific Northwest. He has performed on alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones with many of the world’s greatest musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, the Count Basie Orchestra, and Benny Goodman to name a few. For 30 years he has been a regular performer and instructor at the Port Townsend Jazz Camp and Festival. Ramsay intersects his performing with stints as an in-demand arranger, conductor, and clinician. Along the way, he has earned credits on the Concord Records label, as well as numerous regional and international recordings. Ramsay is a long-time performer on baritone saxophone with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and works with the Seattle Symphony on woodwinds in their POPs concerns. He was inducted into Earshot’s Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997.