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Jazz Port Townsend

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July 26–July 31
Online and Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

By GRACE KASTE

Jazz Port Townsend, Centrum’s renowned annual jazz festival, will be making an exciting return this summer. Although this year’s events may look a bit different, the annual highlight for jazz fans and musicians alike will be back and won’t disappoint! The beloved festival, which draws fans from around the region to Fort Worden State Park, was cancelled in 2020, but its comeback will be celebrated with an in-person concert on the afternoon of Saturday, July 31. Bassist Chuck Deardorf, who has been assisting with the planning remarks that the festival’s return “feels like some form of normality and in some ways it might be better”. 

The Saturday concert will take place outdoors in Fort Worden’s pavilion lawn area for a distanced audience to enjoy two jam-packed sets, both of which will also be livestreamed for added accessibility. The first set will feature musicians from around the country, including vocalist René Marie, alto saxophonist Dick Oatts, trumpeter Terell Stafford, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Dawn Clement, guitarist Miles Okazaki, bassist Marion Hayden, and drummer Carl Allen. The Festival’s Artistic Director, bassist and composer, John Clayton may also make an appearance, but there’s only one way to find out! The second set will highlight musicians from around the region, including saxophonist Alex Dugdale, trumpeter Jay Thomas, trombonist David Marriott, Jr., bassist Chuck Deardorf, pianist Randy Halberstadt, drummer Gary Hobbs, and guitarist Dan Balmer.

In years past, the festival’s weekend performances were the conclusion to a week-long workshop for high-school aged aspiring musicians taught by an impressive list of faculty. This year, the majority of the festival will focus on offering full-day, online workshops and conclude with a public concert on Saturday afternoon. Deardorf, who is also a returning faculty member, says that the virtual workshop will not just be “taking what we used to do and cramming it into a computer.” Instead, he says that it may actually have some benefits. The online format gave them the flexibility to have a more diverse repertoire of educators participate from around the country now that barriers like travel were no longer a deterrent. Nearly the entire faculty originally slated for the cancelled 2020 session will be returning, featuring impressive names, such as Los Angeles-based bassist Katie Thiroux and New York-based drummer Allison Miller to name a couple. 

Daily activities for workshop participants will include online faculty performances, master classes, and theory lessons. Most notably, participants can look forward to “Faculty Presents” performances by some of Saturday’s headliners, designated as the house band. They’ll be on-site in Port Townsend and playing together each afternoon of the workshop, teaching, and then performing a new tune each day.  Deardorf says it will be a welcome reunion for many returning faculty and students, adding “I’m just so happy that they’ve figured out a way to do this”. 

General admission for the concert is $25 and free for 18 and under. Tuition for workshops is $350 with limited scholarships available. For more details, visit centrum.org/jazz-port-townsend-the-workshop.

Jazz Port Townsend: Monday, July 26–Saturday, July 31; 10am-4pm (except for public concert on Saturday, 1:30pm at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way Port Townsend, WA 98368

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June 23, 2021

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