BlaineJazz Festival attracting faculty and students from all over

Published on Thu, Jul 7, 2005 by ack Kintner

Read More News

Blaine Jazz Festival attracting faculty and
students from all over

By Jack Kintner

Four years ago the first Blaine Jazz Festival lasted five days and enrolled about 25 students. The attendance has grown each year to the point that this year’s festival will run for seven days. The week features 12 concerts, all but four of which are free, plus an informal tie-in to the expanded and re-located three-day art festival Summer-Aire, sponsored by the Semiahmoo Ladies Club and held this year at the Pan Pacific (Cost Cutter) Blaine International Mall during the Jazz Festival’s closing weekend.

For the students it’s a non-stop week of rehearsals, lessons, informal jamming and improvisation and performing on stage with some of the world-class faculty. Thirty of them will be living dormitory-style for the week at Bob Boulé’s Smugglers’ Inn, where they’ll hopefully burn off any energy they have left playing softball and soccer on the lawn.
The festival is sponsored by the Pacific Arts Association (PAA) and the city of Blaine in cooperation with the Blaine school district. Three of the four ticketed events, those on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., are part of the association’s 2005 concert series.
As an enticement to contributors, PAA provides post-concert receptions in private homes with the artists for contributors of $350 or more, following the Monday and Wednesday concerts. Festival producer Sandy Wolf said that season tickets are available at prices ranging from $60 to $90 (adults) to $30 to $45 (students and seniors over 65) for four to six concerts in the 2005 season. That compares with single concert prices of $20 and $10 respectively.

The festival faculty, chosen each year by Sandy Wolf and artistic director Ted DeCorso, includes most of last year’s musicians but has a few new faces. These include vocalist and festival jazz choir leader Jeff Horenstein, a protégé of last year’s vocal instructor Vijay Singh at Central Washington University, where Horenstein earned his bachelor’s degree and is currently pursuing a master’s in choral conducting.

Swiss native Daniel Schnyder, 44, is an internationally recognized composer and saxophone player who has a Grammy nomination and has composed several major orchestral works for orchestras in Europe and North America. As an arranger/composer he produced albums for jazz artists Abdullah Ibrahim “African Suite”, Lee Konitz “Tribute to Billie Holiday” and Paquito D’Rivera “Habanera.”

Trumpet player Greg Hopkins, a Michigan native, began freelancing in the Detroit area for such acts as the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight. Hopkins has also performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, the Supremes, Burt Bacharach, Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, Mitzi Gaynor, Michel Legrand, Johnny Mathis, Shirley MacLaine, Marvin Hamlisch, and Lena Horne, as well as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Boston Brass Ensemble.

Chicago native Deborah Weisz, now living in New York, is the trombone instructor this year. After graduating from the University of Nevada/Las Vegas, she stuck around to play in backup bands for headline acts that came through. One was Frank Sinatra, who convinced her to join his touring band in 1987. She stayed for seven years, ending up in New York to be close to her instructor, pianist and composer Jim McNeely. Among many involvements she plays with her own jazz quintet with whom she has produced and recorded her debut CD, “Breaking Up, Breaking Out.”

Randy Halberstadt has been a fixture in the northwest jazz scene for many years, having accompanied such artists as Herb Ellis, Buddy de Franco and Ernestine Anderson. Halberstadt is professor of music at the Cornish College of the Arts, a school founded in 1914 by Nellie Cornish, a Blaine native and daughter of its first mayor. She moved away supposedly after being turned down many times by the local school board when requesting a salary for teaching music in the local schools.

Back for another season are Lou Abbott, drums and percussion; Clipper Anderson, bass; Darin Clendenin, piano; Artistic Director Ted DeCorso, clarinet and saxophone; Dan Goble, saxophone, Blaine’s own Bob Gray, trombone; Larry Holloway, bass; Greta Matassa, vocal jazz; Jon Mutchler, piano; Daniel Schnyder, saxophone; Jud Sherwood, drums and percussion; and Christopher Woitach, guitar.

Schedule of Events
Single event tickets for Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s 7:30 p.m. mainstage concerts are $20, $10 for students and seniors, and are available on-line at, or at the door.

Season tickets for all three concerts plus up to three more during the coming year are available at prices ranging from $60 to $90 (adults) to $30 to $45 (students and seniors over 65) depending on how many concerts are selected in the 2005 season, and include post-concert receptions with the artists.

Daily schedule of events open to the public:
Monday, July 11
Noon concert at Marine Park: Jovino Santos Neto
7:30 p.m.: Pacific Arts Center: Brazilian rhythms of Jovino Santos Neto
Reception for PAA contributors following the concert

Tuesday, July 12
Noon: Concert at Marine Park: Main Characters vocal jazz quartet

Wednesday, July 13
Noon: Concert at Marine Park: preview concert of evening mainstage Ray! concert
7:30 p.m.: Pacific Arts Center: Ray! Featuring the music of Ray Charles and other jazz familiars.
Reception for PAA contributors following the concert

Thursday, July 14:
Noon: Concert at Marine Park: Vocal students performance
7:30 p.m.: preview of Friday night mainstage presentation “String of Pearls” at the Fairhaven Village Green in Bellingham

Friday, July 15:
Noon: Concert at Marine Park: T-Rad Jazz Band
7:30 p.m.: Pacific Arts Center: String of Pearls

Saturday, July 16
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.:. Summer-Aire annual juried art show and sale, Blaine International Mall.
Noon: Concert at Marine Park: “Let’s Rock” faculty showcase.
7:30 p.m.: Greta! A special jazz festival event featuring Greta Matassa at the Semiahmoo Country Club Performance Pavilion. Tickets are $25 on-line at, or at the door. The concert is not a part of the PAA season ticket series.

Sunday, July 17
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Summer-Aire annual juried art show and sale, Blaine International Mall
1 to 5 p.m.: Student Jazz Concert, at Marine Park