By Gail McCarthy
---- — The second annual Rockport Music Jazz Festival features a variety of jazz, and also an opportunity to talk about the musical genre.
The festival, which opened last night, runs through Sunday, Aug. 18, and includes music of all kinds for jazz lovers, including performances by Grammy Award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling, the 1950s vocal jazz of the Four Freshmen, the African-inspired jazz of violinist Regina Carter, and the three-time Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
Tony Beadle, Rockport Music’s executive director, said his group strives to present a variety of music, and noted that there will be a new element for the second Jazz Festival with the introduction of “Jazz Chats.”
“They are part of the overall philosophy of Rockport Music, to create events around concerts that deepen the audience’s appreciation of the music,” Beadle said.
These jazz chats are intended to be informal gatherings, starting at 7 p.m. for those attending the show, and will be held on the third floor of the music hall, except for Sunday. The chats offer an opportunity to delve deeper into the subject of jazz, its beginnings, its growth, and its future.
The chats will be led by Eric Jackson, Steve Schwartz, Rich Tennant, and Ron Della Chiesa, all current or past jazz radio announcers. Some festival artists will join the Jazz Chats for their concerts, including the Four Freshmen, Elling, and Marsalis.
Beadle said he has been asked about the inclusion of the Four Freshmen in the line-up.
“They have a unique place in the beginning of jazz and pop as a combined medium,” he said.
The schedule is:
Tonight, Aug. 15: The Four Freshmen, who influenced groups such as The Beach Boys, are known for harmonic jazz arrangements blended with a classic Big Band sound. The group has earned six Grammy nominations and a place in the Vocal Hall of Fame.
Friday, Aug. 16: Elling performs. Every one of his ten albums has been nominated for a Grammy.
Saturday, Aug. 17: Carter returns to showcase her album “Reverse Thread,” described as traditional African folk music fused with the contemporary twist for which she is known. Carter tours the world and has performed with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel and Mary J. Blige.
Sunday, Aug. 18: Marsalis performs with his longtime pianist Joey Calderazzo.
When the jazz festival ends, other local favorites return as well as newcomers to Rockport Music.
Grammy winner and hometown favorite Paula Cole returns for two nights, on Thursday, Aug. 22 and Friday, Aug. 23.
Travel through time with Ensemble Galilei, which will perform Irish and Scottish jigs and reels as well as Renaissance dance music and Baroque chaconnes, on Saturday, Aug. 24. The ensemble features Celtic harp, fiddles, oboe, recorder, pennywhistle, viola da gamba, and percussion, and has been a regular on NPR’s “Performance Today.”
The Tony-Award winning Faith Prince performs Sunday, Aug. 25. Prince is playing Miss Hannigan in “Annie” on Broadway (replacing Jane Lynch of “Glee” in the role). The singer describes her performance as a “smorgasbord, a goulash, a bouillabaisse of Faith Prince: past, present, future.” The show opens with a medley of Broadway tunes and moves on to tales and songs from her early career Off-Broadway. She is known for her quirky humor.
Tom Rush performs two shows on Friday, Aug. 30, and Saturday, Aug. 31.
For tickets and information, visit www.rockportmusic.org, or call 978-546-7391, or visit the box office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or firstname.lastname@example.org.