Spending nearly a week with these musicians is a pretty surefire way to get totally strung out.
Cellos playing Boccherini and bluegrass, violins with the sounds of Schubert and soul, and other instruments such as mandolins and violas chiming in with plenty of other contributions are scheduled as part of the Juneau Jazz and Classics Fall Music Festival from Oct. 2-7.
The festival’s lineup is three visiting bands along with artistic director Zuill Bailey and his cello, but all are scheduled to play multiple shows, and at times mix and match with each other.
Among the three visiting groups is a string quartet that fits the “classics” aspect of JJAC, another quartet led by a violinist/vocalist that fulfills the “jazz” aspect — and a trio led by an unconventional cellist that spans a vast range of folk/world music. But Bailey, in an interview Thursday, said that diversity is part of the roots of the festival that debuted in 1987.
“The magnificent vision of Linda Rosenthal when she created this festival was that no one really had blended genres of music under the same umbrella before,” he said. “And so classical has always been until so very recently, very much its own. And then you’d have the other things. In the past, crossover was on the inside of classical music seen as not a sellout, but watered down and not sophisticated, not what we’re doing this for. And so what Linda saw, was everyone from Rachmaninoff to Gershwin to jazz and the kind of blend of sounds that don’t have to be in a box.”
The headliner for two different types of evening shows is Chelsey Green, a vocalist who plays violin and viola, appearing with her Green Project quartet. The group’s official website describes the music as “fusing traditional classical technique with popular songs and original pieces in various genres – including R&B, Pop, Soul, Funk, Jazz and more.”
Green, a featured performer at festivals worldwide who is described by WTOP radio as “one of the best violin and viola players in the country,” said in an interview Wednesday she was told about JJAC through a mutual acquaintance of Bailey’s who has performed at the festival previously. She said agreeing to come when asked was an easy decision, even though JJAC’s fall festival is smaller than its annual spring festival and the weather in October not always stellar.
“I believe that after living in Boston I can pretty much deal with the cold and the weather,” she said. “But this will be our first time in Alaska. And we’re just so excited to be coming at any time. We’re gonna be bundled up for sure.”
The Green Project’s music is both something of a rarity in its makeup while occupying a vast range of the jazz spectrum. Green, when asked if she considers her music to be modern jazz, fusion rock or some other genre, said “I’m actually still trying to figure that out.
“Because it’s not one thing,” she said. “It is a representation of many things, many styles and genres, that I am influenced by and inspired by. And for me the easiest way to describe it is contemporary jazz. But it’s contemporary, jazz, R&B and soul. And it is improvisation very much influenced by other styles as well, so it’s a blend.”
Green’s band will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, then again at 7 p.m. Friday at a “Puttin’ on the Ritz” gala at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall which will also feature Bailey. She said while she and Bailey will each perform different types of music in separate sets, they also plan to collaborate on something they’re still trying to figure out.
The festival is scheduled to open with two evenings of classical performances by The Calder Quartet. The first is a free “open rehearsal” at 5 p.m. Monday at Resurrection Lutheran Church, the second will be two shows on Tuesday evening at Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Shuká Hít (clan house). Bailey said he said he chose the Los Angeles-based ensemble because of the “flavor” that comes with their locale.
“The idea of a quartet flavor from Los Angeles, or quartet flavor from Berlin, or quartet flavor from the Midwest, or New York City is very discussable,” he said. “People have to decide why, what and how they’re going to communicate the pieces — whether it’s one voice, whether it’s the distinctive voices, whether there’s kind of a sheen to it, whether it’s kind of earthy. And in this particular case there’s the color, the members have a distinctive kind of an L.A. shine to it. I think there’s the glamour with how it just it that it shines visually, as well as the music is kind of the bright object in the room.”
The other visiting group is the Mike Block Trio, who will perform two shows on the final day of the festival Saturday. The first is a free family concert at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library that will feature other activities as well between 10-11:30 a.m. The second is the festival finale starting at 7 p.m. at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.
Bailey said Block, a cellist who is the group’s leader, is both a physical and musical innovator on the instrument.
“He walks around, and sings and dances playing the cello which — other than the Woody Allen movie where he’s in a marching band with a cello — has revolutionized the way one can play the cello,” Bailey said. “He sings and he accompanies. And he created a trio that can do folk, classical blues, his own compositions, and he has really found himself at his own calling which he invented. But he invented it because of the wonderful talent that he is through the Silk Road Ensemble, which is led by Yo Yo Ma.”
Bailey, in addition to his concert Friday with Green, said there will be workshops and sessions at places like local schools, as well as other likely pop-events around town. He said people should therefore keep an eye on JJAC’s social media pages.
“We always tell people that because we also announce things at the last minute,” he said. “We want it to be spontaneous.”
Juneau Jazz and Classics Fall Music Festival schedule
Monday, Oct. 2
• Open rehearsal, 5-6 p.m., Resurrection Lutheran Church
The Calder Quartet. Free.
Tuesday, Oct. 3
• Strings at Shuká Hít, 5:30-7 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m., Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Shuká Hít (clan house)
Calder Quartet, made up of Benjamin Jacobson and Tereza Stanislav on violin, Jonathan Moerschel on viola, and Eric Byers on cello. Classical favorites from Boccherini to Schubert.
Wednesday, Oct. 4
• Jazz at the JACC, 7-9 p.m., Juneau Arts and Culture Center
Chelsey Green and the Green Project, jazz/funk on violin and vocals
Friday, Oct, 6
• Puttin’ on the Ritz, 7-9 p.m., Elizabeth Peratrovich wHall.
JJAC Artistic Director Zuill Bailey on cello and jazz/funk violinist Chelsey Green.
Saturday, Oct. 7
• Family concert with Mike Block Trio, 10-11:30 a.m., Mendenhall Valley Public Library
Upbeat folk and classical. Crafts and a read-aloud starts at 10 a.m., music at 10:30 a.m. Free
• Mike Block Trio, 7-9 p.m., Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.
Folk/classical/global group led by cellist Mike Block.
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 957-2306.