Youthful musical directions: Boxley's Future Jazz Heads All Stars to play at North Bend Block Party

Students hone their skills with jazz legends like Wycliffe Gordon at North Bend
Students hone their skills with jazz legends like Wycliffe Gordon at North Bend's Boxley's Place. The nightspot's Future Jazz Heads is part of the North Bend Block Party.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

For years, North Bend’s Boxley’s Place has helped young musicians hone their skills in front of a live audience. For the first time, Boxley’s owner Danny Kolke is bringing that Future Jazz Heads program to the streets, with a set of the Valley’s best up-and-coming young jazz musicians playing alongside local pros and legends during the North Bend Block Party.

The Future Jazz Heads All Stars play at 3 p.m. on the Main Stage.

During Future Jazz Heads, held most Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. at Boxleys, students from local middle schools and Mount Si High School play in front of a live audience, often alongside pros.

“It makes it more real for them,” Kolke said.

Students get tips and pointers between songs, boost their confidence and build their love of jazz. The evenings cover everything from jazz standards to more challenging compositions.

Every so often, Boxleys brings in an entire school’s worth of musicians for a special performance.

The All Star pros slated to come to the block party include local bassist Chris Clark, Cascade Jazz Trio drummer Brian Gmerek  and local pianist and drummer Reuel Lubag.

They’ll work alongside up-and-coming student musicians such as Matt Bumgardner, Hayden Kajer-Cline, Aaron Tevis, Quinton Cook, Michelle John and Cole Van Gerpen.

“These kids have been doing so much,” Kolke said. “It’s great for them to be part of the Block Party.”

Far from going silent, jazz music is growing in stature in the Northwest, especially in award-winning regional schools, including those in the Snoqualmie Valley.

“Jazz is one of the most original American art forms that we have,” Kolke says. “Jazz evolved out of American history.”

In the Northwest, many jazz musicians find themselves as educators.

“They take their love of the music with them,” Kolke said. “If teachers are passionate, kids catch on.”

To Kolke, who plays piano with his own trio, jazz music is about fun and freedom. Jazz players are always looking for new ways to do songs and explore their music.

“The goal is to learn how to improvise, and create melodies and countermelodies,” he said. “It’s both intellectually stimulating, as well as technically. If it’s done right, you never hear the same solo twice.”

The music of jazz is only going to continue to evolve and grow.

“There more kids and people interested in jazz now than there was 15 years ago,” Kolke said.

• Boxley’s holds a Future Jazz Heads night at 7 p.m. every Tuesday, promoting student talent. Future Jazz Heads supports the formation of student groups and performances of the next generation of jazz musicians, beyond their 6:30 a.m. school band classes.

The Boxley’s Music Fund is a non-profit fund benefiting live music programs for performance and education within the Greater Snoqualmie Valley.





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