Rhonda Ross and Rodney Kednrick. Image courtesy of Juneau Jazz & Classics.

Rhonda Ross and Rodney Kednrick. Image courtesy of Juneau Jazz & Classics.

Juneau Jazz & Classics brings Rhonda Ross, Eroica Trio, and other headliners

It’s that time of year when stubborn patches of snow finally melt, flocks of birds return north, and a host of musicians converge on Alaska’s capital city for the annual Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.

“I hope everyone will come out, and if they think they’re just jazz lovers they give classical a try, and if they think they’re just classical lovers they’ll give jazz and blues a try,” said second-year artistic director William Ransom. “All the music and artists are really remarkable, and are not only some of the best players in the world, but it’s really important to me as an artistic director to choose people who really relate to the audience from the stage.”

In its 32nd year, the festival boasts an array of headliners, from Richard Stoltzman to Rhonda Ross and many more.

Opening the festival on Friday, May 4, is Texas-style blues band Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones. Jones received his first guitar when he was seven, which he practiced on every day. After seeing how dedicated he was to music, his family gave him another one, and he has continued to make music for the last 50 years and has toured across the country.

The Grammy nominated classical group Eroica Trio is also coming to town. Comprised of Erika Nickrenz on piano, Sara Parkins on violin, and Sara Sant’Ambrogio on cello, Ransom said they’re a highly sought after bunch.

“This is actually a group I’ve known since my student days at Juilliard. They went off and became big stars. I was delighted that they were willing and able to come out to Juneau. I think the whole community is going to fall in love with these three girls. Amazing talent and amazing people, both on stage and off,” he said.

Ransom called Stoltzman “a legend.” A virtuoso clarinetist, he has had a prolific career, playing as a soloist for hundreds of orchestras. In 1986, he became the first wind player to be given the Avery Fisher Prize. He’s also won two Grammys. His wife, Mika Stoltzman, a marimba player devoted to jazz, has had an impressive career as both a live performer and a recording artist. The LA Times called her a “high-wire Jazz marimbist.”

“It looks like she’s dancing when she plays,” Ransom said. “It just brings you into the performance and you get as wrapped up in the music playing as she is. She’s one of those players that you sense is just so involved and it just pulls you along completely.”

Closing the festival on Saturday, May 19 will be singer/songwriter and actress Rhonda Ross, daughter of Diana Ross, and her husband Rodney Kendrick.

“I can’t wait to meet her and hear her in person myself. I haven’t heard her in person and she’s supposed to have the most extraordinary stage presence, the way she works with the audience,” Ransom said.

Other headliners are violist Luke Fleming, band Doug Deming & the Jeweltones, Johnaye Kendrick of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, performer Bradley Howard, jazz pianist Gary Motley, and returning, The Vega Quartet. William Ransom will also play with his sister Kate Ransom.

There will be a variety of special events associated with the festival. Executive director Reggie Schapp said the festival is bringing back the concert on a cruise events due to popular demand; the “Classical Lunch Cruise: ‘Eine Kleine YachtMusik’” and the “Blues Cruise: Andrew ‘Jr. Boy’ Jones Band” both happen on Saturday, May 5. Smaller concerts like the cruises or “Strings at the Shrine” are expected to sell out fast, she said.

Like previous years, there will be Brown Bag Concerts, which are free and open to the public, generally occurring on Mondays and Wednesdays. The goal of these is to provide accessible music; frequently students from local schools have attended. Many of the headliners will also provide workshops on their specialties, like Richard Stoltzman with clarinet, on Wednesday, May 16.

For a complete listing of festival events, go to www.jazzandclassics.org.

• Clara Miller is the Capital City Weekly editor. She can be reached at cmiller@capweek.com.

More in Neighbors

Recognitions for the week of March 19

Juneau students earn academic honors

This photo shows AWARE’s 2023 Women of Distinction (left to right) Kate Wolfe, Jennifer Brown, LaRae Jones and Susan Bell. (Courtesy Photo)
Thank you letter for the week of March 19, 2023

Thank you, merci, danke, gracias, gunalchéesh.

During winter 2022-23, contractors replace the awning structure on the 1904-1913 Valentine Building. The historic building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Its location at the corner of Front and Seward streets is also within Juneau’s Downtown Historic District. (Laurie Craig / For the DBA)
Rooted in Community: The historic Valentine Building and the Findley Family

Many shops have occupied the Seward Street storefronts while Juneau Drug anchors the corner space.

Joab Cano (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: Trust in God

Do you trust in God?

Rotary Club of Juneau recently announced recipients of Annual Vocational Service Awards. They were Marjorie Menzies, Marc Wheeler,The Financial Reality Fairs’ Sponsors and Organizers,The Teal Street Center and Juneau’s Legislative Delegation  (Sen. Jesse Kiehl, Rep. Sara Hannan and Rep. Andi Story. (Courtesy Photo)
Rotary Club of Juneau presents Annual Vocational Service Awards

Each year, the Rotary Club of Juneau’s Vocational Service Awards, honor businesses,… Continue reading

Jane Hale (Courtesy Photo)
Coming Out: A brief desultory digression

Wisdom in Willie and Waylon and veritable virtue in Virgil.

"Bald pride abounds," writes Geoff Kirsch. "In fact, a Bald Men Club of Japan holds an annual Bald Man Competition. In this Olympic-style international tournament, two men stick suction cups to their heads, attached to a single red rope, and then attempt to pull off their opponent’s cup, tug-of-war style. Better start training for next year; I wonder what the rules say about Spider Tack…" (Unsplash /  Chalo Garcia)
Slack Tide: The good, the bald and the ugly

A look at merely a few benefits of being bald…

Laura Rorem (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: Finding strength in vulnerability

Vulnerability is at the heart of being human.

Matthew Schwarting, a Montessori Borealis Public School seventh grader, recently won the Juneau School District's spelling bee. (Courtesy Photo)
7th grader maneuvers into top spot at spelling bee

The Juneau School District recently held its annual district spelling bee.

Alaskan Brewing Co. staff presents a check to Southeast Alaska Food Bank director Chris Schapp on Tuesday as part of the company’s “Cheers to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank!” celebration. The evening also celebrated the selection of Alaskan Brewing Co. next year recipient SEADOGS. (Courtesy Photo / Erin Youngstrom)
Alaskan Brewing Co. selects 2023 nonprofit partner, donates $8,000 to food bank

Tasting Room event celebrates 2022 donation to Southeast Food Bank.

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File 
A long line of residents stand with bags in hand, digging through scarce supplies on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in Juneau at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. Next Saturday, Juneau’s Rotary clubs are teaming up to help collect food for the food bank.
Rotary clubs team up to fight hunger

Next Saturday, the Juneau-Gastineau and Glacier Valley Rotary clubs will join forces… Continue reading

Adam Bauer
Living & Growing: Faith and addressing climate change

It is an honor to live in this homeland of the Áak’w… Continue reading