Jazz fundraiser sets scene with improv, scat, acoustics, variety

The featured act at this year’s Jazz & Wine Among Friends fundraiser is The Jenny Finn Orchestra. Janet Lindsley, far right, accompanies Jenny Finn Orchestra lead singer Carrie Baldwin Sayre as the band performs “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” in February at the Star Theater in Portland. Catch their special brand of vintage swing in Walla Walla from 8-10 p.m. Aug. 23 at Three Rivers Winery.

The featured act at this year’s Jazz & Wine Among Friends fundraiser is The Jenny Finn Orchestra. Janet Lindsley, far right, accompanies Jenny Finn Orchestra lead singer Carrie Baldwin Sayre as the band performs “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” in February at the Star Theater in Portland. Catch their special brand of vintage swing in Walla Walla from 8-10 p.m. Aug. 23 at Three Rivers Winery. Photo by Casey Campbell Photography

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WALLA WALLA — Keeping it to the classic essentials is what Jazz & Wine Among Friends is all about.

Heavy on acoustic instrumentation, lots of improv, throw in some scat from one of the best female vocalists in the Pacific Northwest, and always make sure there is variety, sums up event coordinator Mark Brown.

“I have dreams of opening it up to a lot more different kinds of jazz,” he added.

If you go

Jazz & Wine Among Friends is an annual three-day fundraiser that benefits Friends of Children of Walla Walla.

Events include:

Aug. 22, $30 for all three shows: 6:30-7:30 p.m., Sons do Sol, Charles Smith Winery, 35 S. Spokane St.; 7:45-8:45 p.m., Fork in the Road, The Terrace at Marcus Whitman, 6 W. Rose St.; 9-11 p.m., Gail Pettis Quartet, Main Street Studios, 207 W. Main St.

Aug. 23, $50: 7-7:45 p.m., Big FONT; 8-10 p.m., The Jenny Finn Orchestra.; food vendors will be available. Both performances are at Three Rivers Winery, 5641 U.S. Highway 12.

Aug. 24, $40 brunch and concert: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Whitehouse-Crawford. 55 W. Cherry St.; parade starts 10:30 a.m. at Fourth Avenue and Main Street.

Attend all three events for $120.

Tickets available here.

Brown even hopes one day Jazz & Wine Among Friends could become a full-fledged jazz festival for Walla Walla.

For now, the executive director of local nonprofit Friends of Children of Walla Walla said he is pleased with the growth he has seen in the last seven years.

What started in 2008 with a single fundraising concert for Friends has grown into four concerts over two nights, a Sunday morning brunch with live music, wine, more food and a parade.

The end result of the growth is Brown expects Jazz & Wine Among Friends to raise somewhere between $10,000-$20,000 for the nonprofit.

Friends works with kids and the community to provide adult mentors, especially someone youths can rely on for advice or just to have a good time hanging out together.

All proceeds from tickets sales go to the nonprofit, which is possible because sponsors pick up all expenses associated with putting on the concerts, brunch and parade.

The New Orleans-style parade precedes and leads to Sunday’s finale — brunch at the Whitehouse-Crawford.

“You can go to the whole thing for $120, and that is a good deal,” Brown added.

Jazz & Wine Among Friends is also known for bringing in locally and regionally acclaimed jazz performers. And for some of those big-name performers, like Gail Pettis, the event has become a regular gig.

“Gail Pettis has been here any number of times,” Brown said. “She is one of the best vocalists in the Pacific Northwest. And people really turn out for her”

This year, the featured act is The Jenny Finn orchestra, which describes itself as danceable, vintage swing-jazz of the 1920-’30s, and heavy on vocals and gypsy rhythm guitar.

photo

Music fills the air in the Charles Smith Wines tasting room as The Crawford Glenn Band performs on Aug. 25, 2012, under shimmering light from candelabras during the Jazz & Wine Among Friends.

The group also is known to feature band member emeritus Janet Lindsley on accordion.

“There are a lot of people that follow them in Portland and come out and dance to them. I think it is going to be a very danceable show,” Brown said.

Keeping with his dream to provide different kinds of jazz, Friday’s opening act will feature Sons do Sol.

While the trio is relatively new, the individual players are well know around town: Gary Hemenway, Dave Glenn and Doug Scarborough.

All are veterans of the Walla Walla music scene. But Brown noted for many in the audience it will be the first chance to hear this trio knock out some Latin jazz.

“We try to change things up so it is not always the same show,” Brown added.

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