Ranger Sciacca photo courtesy of artist
Thursdays, July 6-August 10, 7pm
Mary Baker Russell Music Center
Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA
Welcoming a second decade of first-rate community jazz concerts and summer stargazing, Tacoma’s Pacific Lutheran University presents the six-week series Jazz Under The Stars. From July 6 through August 10, the public is encouraged to come out every Thursday night, 7–9pm, to enjoy free performances by local jazz stars.
This year, PLU delivers a split lineup of instrumental and vocal groups, featuring eclectic string swing band Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers,” Tacoma saxophone star Kareem Kandi and his trio, PLU’s Jazz Sound Trio, two Brazilian vocalists Adriana Giordano with her EntreMundos Quarteto and Anjali Natarajan, and Seattle’s contemporary songstress Ana Velinova.
Kicking off the series on July 6 is the self-described “gypsy jazz” music of Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers.” The Seattle quintet evokes the spirit of a Paris cafe and the raucous energy of a Gypsy campsite in their swing standards, traditional Gypsy melodies and Django-style playing. “At the heart of their sound is Ranger Sciacca’s sweet violin playing… his sense of melody and daring improvisations” (World Rhythm).
The following Thursday, July 13, attendees are gifted with the sounds of beloved EntreMundos Quarteto with the elegant, lifting vocals of Adriana Giordano. The electrifying house band of the hugely popular weekly Monday jam sessions at Seattle’s Capitol Cider brings to the stage an uplifting and kinetic mix of deep Brazilian roots flavored with world rhythms — a deft blending of funk, jazz, and soul melding with the classic sounds of samba and bossa nova.
Then on July 20, PLU spotlights one of the hardest-working musicians on the Puget Sound jazz scene: the versatile and sought-after saxophonist, composer, and educator Kareem Kandi. The sax man leads his soulful trio, with B-3 organist Delvon Lamarr and groovin’ drummer Max Wood, in celebrating their popular December release Hourglass.
The concluding Thursday of July features Olympia-based singer-songwriter Anjali Natarajan. Originally from the Bay Area, Natarajan has her roots in Brazilian music and West Coast jazz and has been performing Brazilian, jazz, Latin, and East Indian music since the early 1980s.
The next concert, August 3, continues with a vocal-led show by Seattle’s contemporary jazz singer Ana Velinova. With Bulgarian roots, a family history in music performance, and a master’s in Jazz & Contemporary-Classical Voice Performance, Velinova has fostered her rich talent and since released five albums under the independent record label Ward Street Music Productions.
The series concludes on August 10 with music by PLU’s jazz faculty band, Jazz Sound Trio.
Attendees are encouraged to stay after the final three concerts (July 20, August 3, and August 10) to stargaze in PLU’s Keck Observatory, weather permitting. PLU notes they will provide coffee at the event, with select wine, beer, and snacks for purchase; attendees should bring their own lawn chairs, snacks, and blankets.
Since 1998, PLU has consistently been packing their Mary Baker Russell Music Center amphitheater full of an age-ranging, enjoyable audience for the event.
“Many [attendees] have been coming for years, and we have built a long and strong relationship with them,” says PLU’s Director of Jazz Studies David Deacon-Joyner.
Since assuming the role of JUTS producer, it has been one of Deacon-Joyner’s goals to introduce new talent to the loyal regulars and include “encore” performances by previous artists when possible. Drawing a range of talent from Seattle and beyond, JUTS has featured bands of all different sizes and styles while showcasing the abundance of jazz talent in the region.
More information at plu.edu/jazz/concerts-events/jazz-under-the-stars/.