A Preview of the Bellevue Jazz Festival May 22-24

bjf_logoOne of the things that you can often run into at jazz festivals is being drawn in by the one or two big name headliners that the festival boasts, only to be let down by the rest of the lineup. So much focus and money gets put towards the main stage shows, that it doesn’t leave much else to look forward to or listen to.

Fortunately, living in the Pacific Northwest allows for wonderful performances that don’t make the main stage, as we are blessed with a bounty of fantastic local musicians and groups.

The 2009 Bellevue Jazz Festival has pieced together a great three-day lineup that can and will peak the interest of a listener no matter what his or her taste.

The featured artist lineup alone suggest a program that is diverse and artistic. Dianne Reeves continues her Strings Attached tour, and will be singing Friday night at 9 PM, joined by guitar masters Russell Malone and Romero Lubambo. The festival is not limited to one first-tier vocalist. Other vocal headliners include Kurt Elling, Patricia Barber, and Mose Allison with his trio.

Fans of instrumentalists are not to be disappointed by the list of headliners. One of the biggest names in jazz piano, Panimanian born Danilo Perez brings his wonderful blend of Pan-American jazz to the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center Saturday afternoon. Two big bands are highlights as well. The high energy Mingus Big Band (featuring the likes of Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Ronnie Cuber, and James Carter) is a highlight on Saturday night, while the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra performs Sunday evening, boasting some of the best soloists in the region.

Looking deeper into the schedule, the festival showcases some of the best high school combos in the country. Friday combos from Sammamish, Newport, and Edmonds-Woodway high schools perform, while Saturday combos from Bellevue, Shorewood, and Ingraham high schools take the stage.

Local favorites loaded with talent are also slated for the festival, free of charge. The Trish Hatley Trio performs at El Gaucho on Friday night, while Saturday features The Greta Matassa Quartet, The Bill Anschell Trio, and The Thomas Marriott Trio. The festival closes out Sunday night at 10 PM with the Hadley Caliman at the Twisted Cork Wine Bar.

With most concerts free (and certainly worthy of a cover charge), this lineup should make for an increadibly enjoyable three days worth of jazz.

For complete details, visit www.bellevuejazz.com.