Best bets

Posted: Friday, May 26, 2000

Jazz cats and king salmon, classical virtuosos and prophets of funk, and the comic tale of a dead poet are the highlights for the weekend.

Juneau Jazz & Classics offers two concerts and a dance this weekend, as well as two workshops and a free demonstration called ``How Jazz Works.'' Seventeen top-notch jazz musicians, veterans of such world-class big bands as Woody Herman and Count Basie's groups are playing tonight and Saturday night.

Bruce Paulson's L.A. Big Band is teaming up with classical violinist Linda Rosenthal to perform ``Glacier Blue'' at 8 tonight at Juneau-Douglas High School. This is a brand new music work, a 23-minute concerto that combines elements of funk, jazz, bluegrass, classical, gospel and bebop. The snippets I've heard sound great.

``Glacier Blue'' was inspired by Alaska and composed for Alaska. Evan Solot, who will direct the band for tonight's debut performance of ``Glacier Blue,'' was commissioned by Rosenthal almost a year ago to write this music.

The classical duo of Joseph Petric and Guy Few will take the stage for the first half of the concert. Petric, an accordion player extraordinaire and Few, a pianist and trumpeter, will play the music of Bach, Chopin, and 20th century English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Saturday morning from 10 to noon the Bruce Paulson Quintet will present a free performance demonstration on jazz at the Egan Library at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Saturday night Paulson's L.A. Big Band will play a dance from 9 p.m. to midnight at Centennial Hall. They'll trade violinist Rosenthal for vocalist Madeline Vergari, and swap concert material for dance music.

``It'll be a swinging, danceable evening,'' Paulson said. ``It be won't be Lawrence Welk, it'll be more like Count Basie - that genre, aimed at dance.''

Paulson said half the musicians in his band are also leaders of their own bands in Los Angeles. Saxophonist Roger Neuman (who fronts The Roger Neuman Rather Large Band) has written the arrangements for much of the dance music the band will play Saturday night. His wife is singer Madeline Vergari, who's worked with Harry James, Les Brown, Ray Anthony and Ray Conniff.

Trombonist Bruce Paulson himself has gone from Glen Miller to Steve Miller. He toured with the Glen Miller band under the leadership of Buddy DeFranco, and recorded with the rock guitarist. He's also recorded with Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Stevie Wonder. Unfortunately, he just missed recording with Rosenthal - he was on a tour in Japan earlier this month when she came to Los Angles to record ``Glacier Blue'' with his band.

Paulson keeps a boat here in Juneau, and will be staying in the area an extra week to take a couple of the band members fishing. His timing is excellent, as bright, big kings have moved into the inside waters. This is a prime weekend to get out. I've seen some nice fish in the 20- to 30-pound range this week, but I can't say exactly where.

For a completely different kind of dance music, the Millennium Prophets, a Juneau rock and funk band, is playing 9:30 p.m. to closing tonight and Saturday at the Hangar on the Wharf.

This is the final weekend for ``Wild Nights with Emily'' at Perseverance Theatre. Performances are 8 p.m tonight and Saturday, and the last show is at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The 12-piece, San Francisco-based jazz, funk and classical group Mingus Amungus wraps up the jazz and classics festival with a concert at 8 p.m. Sunday at JDHS auditorium. The group jazzes up the show with hip hop, Haitian and West African dance as well as music.

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