To say this fall’s Juneau Jazz & Classics has less class is actually an appreciation for aficionados of real-world music learning – indeed, it features something of a first-ever graduation ceremony for the students.
Youths in a local tuition-free music program collaborating with the multi-genre string trio Simply Three are scheduled to be the finale concert during the six-day festival starting Monday. The overall schedule includes fewer classroom/community workshops and more shows than last fall, with highlights including a Puttin’on the Ritz music and food evening Monday, a Virtuosity classical concert at Chapel by the Lake on Thursday, and four cabaret/burlesque/comedy shows by operatic singer Shelly Watson at various venues.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll have tickets available at the door for all the events,” said Sandy Fortier, the festival’s director.
The finale will feature youths in the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program performing after spending the week working with Simply Three, a group formed in 2010 that plays music by and invoking artists such as Adele, Gershwin, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Michael Jackson. Fortier said visiting festival musicians have worked with local JAMM participants before, but this is the first time the youths will perform a concert.
The opening Puttin’ on the Ritz at 7 p.m. Monday at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, which according to the festival’s Facebook page is “more than halfway sold,” features two more featured visiting musicians in violinist Lara St. John and pianist Matt Herskowitz. The evening is an annual festival event described as an “affair of elegance and luxury,” with a cash bar and hor d-ourves served during an intermission of the two-hour performance.
Herskowitz will also be featured Tuesday in a Jazz at JACC concert at from 7-9 p.m., performing jazz interpretations of classical and show standards, and will afterward join a jazz jam session scheduled from 8-11 p.m. at Crystal Saloon that is open to all musicians and free for listeners.
The saloon will also be the venue for “Life is a Cabaret” by from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, with Watson joined by Herskowitz. Watson will also perform two All of Me shows at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Crystal Saloon where she will showcase her improvisational range of opera/rock/jazz/folk/rap/comedy.
Although her Friday shows will also reveal her burlesque talents, she will focus on family-friendly frolics during a Laugh and Learn at the Library show from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library that is open to the public.
JJ&C’s other featured concert at Chapel By The Lake from 7-9 p.m. Thursday will feature Herskowitz and cellist Zuill Bailey, the festival’s artistic director. Fortier said the cellist is also likely to perform a pop-up concert Monday afternoon at Kindred Post downtown, where he performed on the sidewalk near the food stands during JJ&C’s spring festival.
The increase in concerts compared to last fall, the first JJ&C event after the COVID-19 shutdowns, meant fewer time and availability for school and community organization activities, Fortier said. Lingering virus concerns also meant Lemon Creek Correctional Center cancelled a hoped-for performance by Watson for inmates.
• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at email@example.com