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Gratis Concerts Grow at IAOJA Fest

When International Assn. of Jazz Appreciation founder and president William J. Coffey Jr. envisioned a jazz festival in Los Angeles a few years ago, he wanted to have a half a dozen or so free events at venues scattered throughout the Southland. He’s getting closer to his dream.

This year, the association’s third annual International Jazz Festival has three free concerts, up from one in 1988 and two in 1989. “Hey, it’s growing,” said Coffey. The gratis events--all to be held Saturday, noon-3 p.m.--will feature trombonist Luis Bonilla and guitarist Phil Upchurch at Barnsdall Park (4800 Hollywood Blvd.); bassist Larry Gales and saxman Rickey Woodard at Jim Gilliam Park (4000 S. La Brea Ave., Baldwin Hills), and the IAOJA “Jazz Goes to School” Band and violinist Susie Hansen at UCLA’s Westwood Plaza (near parking lots 4 or 6 on Westwood Boulevard).

“We think these events are very important to what we do, in terms of educating the public and making jazz music accessible and affordable,” said Coffey. “A $20 ticket, or having to travel a long way for an event, cuts a lot of folks out.”

The free shows will be followed by two ticketed concerts to be held Saturday and Sunday, 7-11 p.m., at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Singer Dianne Reeves, pianist Dorothy Donegan and Gerald Wilson’s Orchestra of the ‘90s are on tap Saturday, and keyboardist Joe Zawinul’s Syndicate, singer Dwight Sills and organist Joey DeFrancesco--CBS Records artists all--will appear Sunday. Tickets are $9-$20. Information: (213) 825-9261.

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Reeves, Zawinul and DeFrancesco are among those donating their services for the performances, proceeds from which benefit the “Jazz Goes to School” program, a seven-week course covering the history and culture of jazz as it relates to the history and culture of America. In February, the course will be presented at a dozen Los Angeles area schools for the fourth year.

“When I was in high school in Denver, we had people like (saxophonist) Oliver Nelson and (trumpeter) Clark Terry come by and lecture and play and that heightened our awareness of, and curiousity for, jazz,” said Reeves. “Then later, performing with a school band at the National Assn. of Jazz Educators convention in Chicago, that started my career. With IAOJA going into the schools, I wanted to be a part of that because something similar made me aware of a wonderful and sophisticated music.”

“It’s important to keep jazz out there,” said Zawinul as to why he was participating.

Coffey says that the thrust behind his jazz-in-school program is simply to build and maintain an audience for his favorite art form.. “If students become familiar with, and hopefully appreciate, jazz, then when they become adults, perhaps they’ll support it since they’ve had prior exposure,” he said. “If only 1% of all (high school) graduates appreciated jazz music, it would enough broad-based support for musicians to do what they like to do--which is play. Most jazz artists can’t make a living at what they like to do.”

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WRITE ON: John Lewis, David Murray, George Russell and Steve Lacy are among the jazz musicians who have been given composition grants (ranging from $11,000-$21,000) by the Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Fund, which operates in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. Lewis, of Modern Jazz Quartet fame, will compose a piece for guitarist Charlie Byrd and the Annapolis Brass Quintet; saxophonists Murray, Hamiet Bluiett and Oliver Lake will write a work for saxophone quartet and three African drummers; pianist/bandleader Russell will concoct a piece for his Living Time Orchestra, and soprano saxophonist Lacy will write a work for 16-18 players that will be a portrait of jazz masters who influenced him. Other grantees: Craig Harris, Mary Watkins and Muhal Richard Abrams.

FESTIVAL SCENE: Freddie Hubbard, Michel Petrucciani and Henry Butler headline at Jazzin’ the Park, held Sept. 9, 4 p.m. at Libbey Park in Ojai, (805) 646-7230, (805) 646-8156. . . . Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Petrucciani, Gerald Wilson and Poncho Sanchez are on the bill at the 33rd annual Monterey Jazz Festival, holding forth Sept. 21-23 on the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Tickets: (408) 373-3366.

RIM SHOTS: Art work by John Heard and photographs by Ray Avery will be part of a show entitled, “Jazz: See the Music,” opening Sunday, noon-5 p.m., at the Granada Buildings, 672 S. Lafayette Park Place, (213) 389-3637. . . . The Hinds Pavilion, located at Fairplex Park, Pomona, features swing bands for its inaugural concerts. The Harry James Orchestra, led by trumpeter Art Depew, performs tonight and Les Brown’s Band of Renown works Saturday. Showtime both nights: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets: (714) 629-3099, (213) 480-3232.

TOP 10 JAZZ LPs

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1. Standard Time Vol. 3: The Resolution Of Romance--Wynton Marsalis

2. We Are in Love--Harry Connick Jr.

3. Question and Answer--Pat Metheny

4. Lofty’s Roach Souffle--Harry Connick Jr.

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5. Elaine Elias Plays Jobim--Elaine Elias

6. Apasionado--Stan Getz

7. On Course--Christopher Hollyday

8. Crazy People Music--Branford Marsalis Quartet

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9. Music From “Mo’ Better Blues"--Branford Marsalis Quartet

With Terrance Blanchard

10. Carmen Sings Monk--Carmen McRae

SOURCE: Billboard

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