Juneau Jazz & Classics kicks off Friday

Anat Cohen plays clarinet as Joe Martin plays bass with the Anat Cohen Quartet at the State Office Building during the Brown Bag Lunch concert in 2009.

Twenty-five years ago, a group of Juneau musicians and music lovers, led by violinist Linda Rosenthal, started the Juneau Jazz & Classics Music Festival. The vision was to offer both formal and informal concerts, workshops, youth concerts, outreach activities and community interaction with the featured artists.


In honor of its 25th year, Jazz & Classics has stretched this year’s festival to 16 days. This means more concerts, more chances to meet the artists, and more time in the schools and community.

The 2011 Juneau Jazz & Classics 25th Silver Anniversary music festival kicks off May 6 with a return visit from Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band at Hope Hall (formerly ANB Hall).

The festival will end on May 21 with a dance at the Treadwell Ice Arena, featuring the Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers’ mix of zydeco, rhythm and blues, funk, rock and roll, reggae and pop. In between, the Festival will present a large variety of musical styles and events, with performances by the Jasper String Quartet, Paul Rosenthal, the Claire Daly Quintet, the Air Force Band of the Pacific, Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Richard Dowling, Evan Drachman, Awadagin Pratt, an evening of cabaret with Broadway star Chuck Cooper and more.

The festival continues to take advantage of as many place in Juneau as it can, with concerts in venues all over town. Unexpected venues this year include the Treadwell Ice Arena and the Chapel and the Shrine of St. Therese. A complete listing of events and locations can be found at www.jazzandclassics.org.

The cruise concerts are always some of the most popular events of the festival. On Saturday, May 14, the festival will offer two blues cruises. Rick Estrin and the Nightcats will provide the music for an early and a late blues cruise (departing at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.). Both of these blues cruises will feature light snacks, a no-host bar, and music offered in an up-close and intimate setting.

The classical concerts will feature many returning favorites and some new ones too — The Jasper String Quartet, the Evan Drachman on cello, Awadagin Pratt on piano and Richard Dowling on piano. Juneau Jazz & Classics Founder, Artistic Director and violinist Linda Rosenthal will play in the Silver Anniversary Concert and Juneau resident Paul Rosenthal will make an appearance on viola with The Jasper String Quartet at the Strings at the Shrine concert.

Formed in 2003, The Jasper String Quartet — Quartet in Residence at Yale University — has already collected numerous prizes and accolades throughout its short history, performing works from Haydn and Beethoven to Ligeti, Webern, and Penderecki.

Pianist Awadagin Pratt has performed on the Today Show, Good Morning America and Sesame Street, been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and was one of the featured soloists on PBS’s “Live from the Kennedy Center - A Salute to Slava.” Juneau audiences have the opportunity to see him perform on May 19 at Northern Light United Church at 7:30 p.m.

Violin virtuoso Paul Rosenthal, Founder and Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Sitka Summer Music Festival, has lived in Juneau for more than four decades, while performing throughout the United States and Europe. Classical concerts will be held on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays of the Festival, in addition to a number of free noon “brown bag concerts” at the State Office Building.

Chuck Cooper, a veteran of nine Broadway plays and musicals and numerous television guest leads and film appearances over the span of his 30 years as a professional actor, will perform May 7 at the JACC in Miles of Styles- An Evening of Cabaret. Cooper won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a musical for his portrayal of Memphis in The Life.

On the jazz side, the Festival will showcase two acts: the Claire Daly Quintet and the big band style Air Force Band of the Pacific- The Greatlanders. Award-winning baritone saxophonist Claire Daly has composed a musical homage to her father’s first cousin, Mary Joyce. A pioneer who made a 1,000 mile dogsled journey from Juneau to Fairbanks in 1935-36, Joyce and her three month journey tell an amazing tale of determination, adventure, risk-taking, and fortitude. The composition will be a world premiere at the 2011 Juneau Jazz & Classics on May 21 at the newly completed McPhetres Hall at 8 p.m. The Air Force Band of the Pacific- The Greatlanders will entertain young and old at the free Canvas Street party on May 16 on the street outside The Canvas on Seward Street.

Saturday, May 21 finds the Festival festivities taking place on the University of Alaska Southeast Campus at Auke Lake. Community Day on Campus, a collaboration with the University and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and the newly added Poetry Omnibus, is a family oriented day with food, activities for kids and free back-to-back concerts throughout the day.


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