Sitka Jazz Festival

Sitka Jazz Festival

Don’t miss out on this year’s Jazz Festival in Sitka (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

February in Sitka means it is time for the annual Sitka Jazz Festival.  The small seaside community has hosted this annual event for the past 17 years and the 18th festival looks to be the best one yet.  Featuring a mix of jazz musicians ranging from local students to professional musicians from around the world, the festival’s mission is to provide an inspirational platform for jazz music that is as much about education as it is about performance.

In keeping with the spirit of Sitka, the jazz festival fosters cross-cultural understanding.  The rich history and cultural diversity of this small of this small, scenic, seaside communtiy makes it the perfect place for musicians and music enthusiasts to learn, participate, and revel in the joy that is jazz music.

The festival includes a mix of classes and clinics as well as four performances.  Artists attending the festival and educators from local educational institutions provide a supportive environment for students and participants to explore jazz in a variety of ways.  Clinics in jazz history, jazz improvisation, and jazz theory are help during the festival.  In addition to these classes, students can also participate in sessions specific to their instrument or section.

The festival runs from Thursday February 6th through Saturday the 8th with performances held on Friday the 7th and Saturday the 9th.  On each day, there will be a student concert starting at 6:00 PM that runs for 90 minutes, and a professional concert beginning at 8:00 PM.  Both 90 minute student performances feature students from Floyd Dryden Middle School, the East Anchorage Jazz Band, TMHS Vocal Jazz, and the Ketchikan High School Jazz Band.

After the student concert, stay to enjoy the Friday professional concert which features the Sullivan Fortner Trio and Carmen Bradford.   The Sullivan Fortner Trio features Sullivan Fortner, an award winning pianist who has played with the Marsalis family, Donald Harrison, Gary Bartz, and Marcus Belgrave.  Carmen Bradford has performed with music legends like Tony Bennett, James Brown, Frank Sinatra, and Lena Horne and was the featured soloist with the Count Basie Band for nine years.

Friday’s professional concert features:

The second student performance is scheduled to begin at 6:00 PM on Saturday the 8th and will also run for 90 minutes.  This concert will feature students from Floyd Dryden Middle School, the East Anchorage Jazz Band, TMHS Vocal Jazz, and the Ketchikan High School Jazz Band.   After the student concert, you can stay to enjoy the Alaska Airlines Professional Concert.  This concert features the All-Alaska Jazz Band playing with Mike Dana and Eric Marienthal, talented saxophonist, with the Sullivan Fortner Trio.

This concert also includes music from

  • Sitka High School Vocal Jazz
  • Alan Ferber with the Sitka Jazz Festival Big Band

Tickets for the student concert are $10/each and $25 for each professional concert, which includes admission to the preceding student concert. Visitors can get the full experience by purchasing an All-Festival Pass for $45 that grants access to all concerts and workshops.  Tickets and passes can be purchased at Old Harbor Books, from local Sitka music students, and at the door.  All student and professional evening concerts held at the Sitka Performing Arts Center.  Brown Bag Lunch concerts held at Harrigan Centennial Hall Feb 6 and 7, noon to 1p.m. featuring student groups and professional artists. Free admission. For more information visit the Sitka Jazz Festival website.

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