New York Voices at DeMiero Jazz fest photo by Ziggy Spiz
BY LOUISE URIU
Early on a sunny Thursday morning, nine vocal jazz choirs from high schools around the region arrived at North Sound Center in Edmonds to begin an intensive day of performing, clinics, and masterclasses from some of the world’s best vocal jazz performers and educators for The DeMiero Jazz Fest, an event produced annually by The DeMiero Jazz Festival. New this year to the “Thursday Music Intensive” was an opportunity for choirs to experience a private recording session.
One of the directors, Emily McKinney from Mead High School in Spokane said, “The DeMiero Jazz Fest is such a valuable experience for students and directors alike. My students loved working with the Grammy-nominated New York Voices (once they got over being starstruck!) and are buzzing about all that they’ve learned, excited to put it into practice.” McKinney’s group was awarded the Tim Hauser Scholarship, which covered $400 of their registration fee in honor of the late founding member of Manhattan Transfer. Another choir, Sedro-Woolley High School under the direction of Poul Brask, was sponsored by the New York Voices Scholarship. That busy day culminated in a moving mass choir jazz concert that featured the Dee Daniels Scholarship Award winner Tessa Korver, from Roosevelt High School, as well as a sneak peek at the festival’s guest artists.
The following day, 27 more vocal jazz choirs came to perform and learn from the masters, which included the New York Voices (Kim Nazarian, DeMiero Jazz Fest’s new Artistic Director; Darmon Meader; Lauren Kinhan; and, Peter Eldridge), Emily Braden, Greta Matassa, Dave Barduhn, Randy Porter, Chuck Deardorf, and Marcello Pellitteri. Matassa, a festival regular, spends time making magic with young jazz soloists. Instrumentalists work with the professionals to learn more about their instrument and their role in a jazz combo. Aspiring audio engineers shadow the festival pros to learn more about their craft. Masterclasses teach improvisation, song styling, how to build a successful set, and developing your own sound.
Members of Edmonds College’s Soundsation Vocal Jazz group, under the direction of Kirk Marcy, buzz throughout the festival like the Energizer Bunny—setting up, guiding groups, photographing, and acting as the heartbeat of the festival—only to wow the audience with an impressive performance marking the end of the daytime festival activities. Although the festival is non-competitive, there is recognition of outstanding individuals who shone extra bright during their daytime performance.
Once the daytime activities concluded, the festival geared up for an evening concert at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The all-star lineup included Soundsation, Korver, Braden, and the New York Voices, all supported by the Jazz Fest’s rhythm section of Porter, Deardorf, and Pellitteri. Braden was a highlight of the evening, encouraging a sing-a-long with the hundreds of singers in the audience to an innovative and jazzy Whitney Houston medley. The internationally acclaimed New York Voices closed out the evening, spotlighting their latest record release, Reminiscing in Tempo. The evening concert was simultaneously live streamed around the world, a new tradition that is sure to be repeated. Stay in the loop with this community centered event at demierojazzfest.org.