A fortnight of Juneau Jazz and Classics

Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2000

Chicago bluesman Studebaker John Grimaldi made an impression on Greg Cohen that he's never forgotten.

Cohen heard the singer, harmonica player and slide guitarist playing in Seattle with his band, the Hawks. When Cohen took on the job of administrator for the Juneau Jazz and Classics festival last year, he pitched the band to festival director and founder Linda Rosenthal.

``Linda liked them too. I played (a CD of) them for the board and got a resounding `Yes,' '' said Cohen, who also plays blues harmonica.

The guitarist and his band will open the 14th Juneau Jazz and Classics festival with a concert at the New Penthouse Friday night. The 10-day festival will offer two dozen concerts, dances and workshops. The jazz and classical genres are mainstays of the event, but the festival has never been too strict about style.

``That's part of our job, to keep recycling so it isn't always the same, and there isn't one type of music that gets the nod at the expense of another,'' Cohen said. ``In past years we've had a lot of vocal and cabaret, and this (year) is more instrumental.''

Studebaker John Grimaldi's four-piece band will play two shipboard ``blues cruise'' concerts on Saturday. The Lark Quartet, a classical sting quartet, will also give a shipboard concert Saturday morning.

Rosenthal heard the New York City-based quartet last fall.

``They're one of the really top-notch quartets playing today,'' she said. ``They also know they scene at festivals is doing much more than performing -- giving master classes, lunches, going to schools and noontime concerts.''

A few years ago, The Lark Quartet commissioned a piece of music from composer Aaron Kernis. That composition, which they recorded and regularly perform, won the 1998 Pulitzer prize for music, Cohen said.

In addition to performing as a quartet, violinists Diane Pascal and Jennifer Orchard, violist Danielle Farina and cellist Astrid Schween will be splitting up and performing solo and in duos. They'll also be collaborating with festival guests pianist Jon Klibonoff and clarinetist Ilian Iliev.

Concerts Monday and Tuesday evenings at Chapel by the Lake will feature all six players. Their rehearsal at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Northern Light United Church is free and open to the public.

The sextet will also perform a family concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at Aldersgate Methodist Church. The annual family concert component of the festival features accessible music and kid-friendly atmosphere.

A series of free noon-time concerts every day next week will provide ample opportunities to sample the music. Monday through Thursday the concerts will be in the atrium on the eighth floor of the State Office Building. Two concerts will be held at noon Friday, at Marine Park and in the Nugget Mall.

Workshops Tuesday evening will offer lessons in cello, woodwinds, jazz guitar, piano, violin and viola.

A complete list of festival events through next Thursday can be found in the Preview calendar. The festival continues next weekend with performances by Rosenthal, pianist and trumpeter Guy Few, accordionist Joseph Petric, the band Mingus Amungus and Bruce Paulson and his L.A. Big Band.

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