Thus far in her meteoric career, Juneau Jazz & Classics guest artist Grace Kelly has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Symphony Hall. And, as of Wednesday night, the Lucky Lady.
Those who managed to cram themselves in to the small bar on Franklin Street got the chance to see Kelly and her band, The Grace Kelly Quintet, perform for free as part of the 27th annual Jazz & Classics Festival, which runs through Saturday. Surrounded by an enthusiastic and diverse crowd that spilled out the door onto the sidewalk of Franklin Street, the quintet played for nearly two hours, in what turned out to be not only a rare experience for Juneau listeners, but also an informal birthday party for band leader Grace Kelly. (The crowd even took up an impromptu round of “Happy Birthday” for her after the performance.) Listening to her perform, it seemed remarkable to the point of unbelievable that she was turning 21.
Grace Kelly — her real name following her mother’s remarriage — began her musical career on the piano at age 6. Raised in the suburbs of Boston, she was also involved in singing, dancing, composing and acting. Both parents were jazz fans, and Kelly soon followed suit. By the time she was in fourth grade, she’d begun to play the clarinet and saxophone, and the latter has become the instrument for which she is primarily known. By the time she was 12, she’d released her first CD. Her second followed the next year, and her third the year after that, grabbing the attention of the Boston Pops, who invited her to play with them when she was 14. At that performance, at Boston’s Symphony Hall, Kelly presented her first full orchestral arrangement. While still in her teens, she played and recorded with jazz legends including Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., among many others, and took part in Barack Obama’s Inauguration celebration. A 2011 graduate of the Berklee College of Music, she has thus far released eight CDs, garnering many awards along the way, including “Best Jazz Act” in Boston four years in a row.
Wednesday’s performance at the Lucky Lady was the band’s third official Jazz & Classics appearance. They also played at a brown bag lunch at the State Office Building Atrium on Monday, and as part of the Puttin’ on the Ritz concert last Sunday at UAS. They’ve also been working in the schools and leading workshops, as the festival’s official 2013 jazz artists-In-residence.
Juneauites have one more chance to catch this act: the quintet plays tonight, Friday, at 8 p.m. at the JACC. Those who were hampered by the elbows of their neighbors at the Lucky Lady should have a bit more room to move around this time.
For ticket information, visit www.jazzandclassics.org.
For more on Kelly, visit www.gracekellymusic.com.
• Contact reporter Amy Fletcher at 523-2283 or at email@example.com.