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Category: Jazz and Blues

Dec.
26th

New Year’s Eve jazz at The Harmon, Tacoma

If First Night isn’t your thing and you still need a party to go to on New Year’s Eve, head for The Harmon in downtown Tacoma, where you’ll get cover-free big band jazz rocking tunes until midnight on December 31.

The man behind it is Rich Wetzel, who’s been lining up regular jazz gigs for his Groovin’ Higher Orchestra for a while now, proving that big band jazz can draw a crowd on a weekend. Playing high energy jazz-rock-funk-Latin, the band has a tight ensemble and fluid soloists, even on unusual instruments like flugelhorn.

The all-ages show is free

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Nov.
12th

Harmonica player Paul Green at Immanuel Presbyterian’s Blues Vespers this Sunday

It’s all about the harmonica at Blues Vespers this Sunday. Immanuel Presbyterian‘s monthly free blues service features award-winning Seattle player Paul Green as the headline act in its 8th annual Harmonica Showcase, along with Stacey Jones and Steve Bailey. Tom Boyle and the T-Town Aces rhythm section will back up the stars, plus there’ll be a guest appearance by London blues star Tim Aves.

“The harmonica provides a second voice connected directly to the feeling of the player,” says Green about his instrument, also called the mouth harp or Mississippi saxophone.

The Blues Vespers is a blues concert with

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Aug.
2nd

Former Sinatra trumpeter Walt Johnson makes an appearance in Tacoma Saturday night with Rich Wetzel’s Groovin’ Higher Orchestra


Trumpeter Walt Johnson, who'll be guest artist with the Groovin' Higher Orchestra at the Stonegate Saturday night. Courtesy photo.

For Rich Wetzel, it’s a coup. Since he was a kid in Los Angeles the Tacoma trumpeter and bandleader has been a fan of Walt Johnson, a jazz trumpeter that played lead for Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Louie Bellson, Lionel Hampton, and recorded with Lionel Richie, Barry Manilow and more. Now Johnson will be the guest artist with Wetzel’s own jazz band, the Groovin’ Higher Orchestra, at their gig Saturday night at the Stonegate.

“Growing up as a high school kid in LA a friend and I followed him around asking for lessons,” said Wetzel. “He was busy playing, not giving lessons. But we followed him so much he finally relented.”

Since those days, Wetzel’s played with Johnson from time to time, including a gig with the GHO in the Rialto a few years ago. But this weekend’s gig came from Wetzel’s day job as a rep for Bach trumpets. Read more »

June
14th

Fathers Day Blues Vespers features Henry Cooper and Bill Rhoades

Slide guitar master Henry Cooper will be featured at Sunday’s (Fathers Day) Blues Vespers at Immanuel Presbyterian Church at 5 p.m.

Joining Henry is Bill Rhoades, the “Northwest’s Master of the Blues.”

Blues Vespers is a Washington Blues Society award winning monthly event at Immanuel Presbyterian Church featuring blues music, poetry and a brief reflection.

There is no cost but a collection is taken.

Immanuel is at 901 N J Street in Tacoma.

June
11th

A summer of free jazz – under the stars

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
COST: Free
WHEN: Thursdays 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. – July 12 to August 16
WHERE: Pacific Lutheran University – Mary Baker Russell Amphitheatre

The Schedule:

July 12– Sommer Stockinger and Kareem

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May
22nd

Jazz and Blues Fest rocks Tacoma this weekend at Freighthouse Square, the Harmon and Stonegate

It’s back – the annual Tacoma Jazz and Blues Festival, rocking Freighthouse Square and two other venues all day Saturday, and all for free.

Freighthouse Square is the best jumping-off place, hosting both the Big Band Stage (upstairs in the Rainier Room) and free parking. Catch the light rail to the Blues Stage at the Harmon Pub on Pacific Avenue, and then drive down South Tacoma Way to the Stonegate restaurant and bar for the evening stage.

In the line-up this year: regular favorites like Rich Wetzel’s Groovin’ Higher Jazz Orchestra (5 p.m., Stonegate), Maia Santell

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May
17th

Two free jazz evenings at local churches: Jazz Live at Marine View with Danny Quintero and Blues Vespers at Immanuel Presbyterian with Bill Sims Jr.

There’s plenty of free jazz this weekend at two Tacoma churches. Jazz Live at Marine View features 23-year-old crooner Danny Quintero, while the Immanuel Presbyterian Blues Vespers this months features blues artist Bill Sims Jr.

Danny Quintero is becoming known for a vocal talent that gets him compared to Frank Sinatra. Says John Hanford of the Fabulous Wailers: “That Danny possesses a great set of pipes is obvious; what strikes one on first hearing is the sheer quality of the voice mature and burnished sonority that belies his age. There is also the confident sense of swing, and

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