The sound of music rang through North Bend’s downtown core on the night of April 21 as the 7th annual Jazz Walk brought together people from around the region for a night of live performances at several downtown businesses.
JazzClubsNW executive director Gregory Malcolm estimated about 1,200 total people were in attendance, stating that it was very close to an all-time record.
“For the first couple festivals, the attendance was probably 70/30, with 70 percent local,” he said. “Now it’s just about a 50/50 split. That’s testimony to its broader reach and its reputation as an established event in the jazz community. We are proud that we are truly living up to our name of JazzClubsNW.”
This year, Malcolm said one of the biggest parts of the night was inviting jazz bands from several regional high schools in addition to Mount Si, including Newport, Mercer Island and Bellevue high schools.
“One thing we have made a very solid component to the Jazz Walk is we really pride ourselves on extending invitations to some high school jazz ensembles in the area, outside the valley,” he said. “That increases participation and gives them a chance to showcase their skills. It broadens the audience and reaches more people with our mission to provide live jazz, performance, education and scholarship.”
Malcolm said that in addition to students performing, they also get a chance to watch and interact with the professional jazz musicians who make up the bulk of performers at the event. Those professionals, he said, often play at national or international levels and JazzClubsNW is proud to be able to put on an event in which top talent asks to come back to every year.
The local businesses, Malcolm said, are also excited to participate every year. While venues like North Bend Theater, Valley Center Stage and the joint JazzClubsNW Firehouse and Wildflower Wine Shop are designed to accommodate live performances on a stage, several businesses are not. The local businesses owners work of find space for the night to be part of the event, Malcolm said.
“One thing that’s really special about our festival is we put performers in businesses that in many cases that do not showcase live music. Birches, Georgia’s Bakery, North Bend Chevrolet, they love being a part of it because they are not a venue that would host music,” he said. “It draws in a crowd, is a chance to show great community partners and they often tell me it’s one of their favorite nights of the year to participate in.”
Jazz Walk may be over, but Malcolm said the JazzClubsNW is just getting started for the summer season.
Walter Blanding, a saxophonist with the Lincoln Center Orchestra, will be headlining a Jazz Jam on April 28. Blanding will be playing with the Danny Kolke Trio and with several JazzClubsNW “All-Stars,” former students from the Valley who will return to play with the accomplished musician.
For more information, visit www.jazzclubsnw.org.